As a teenager I decorated my bedroom with posters. I had two favorites: one of Stan Smith in mid-serve, the other a picture of the moon behind some clouds with a quote superimposed. I’d stare for periods of time at the moon poster and try to decipher the meaning of the quote. The poster is vivid in my mind: it was a soft orangish color, very autumnal and the clouds filtering the image of the moon were a creamy color creating a gauze-like effect.
“Not for the proud man apart/From the raging moon I write/On these spindrift pages/Nor for the towering dead/With their nightingales and psalms/But for the lovers, their arms/Round the griefs of the ages,” Dylan Thomas (“In My Craft or Sullen Art”)
Those were the lines quoted on the poster. Eventually I was able to figure out that Thomas, who lived as tragic a life as any poet, was saying he wrote because he had to. The words were in him and he didn’t care if he made money from doing what he loved. But it’s the passion in his words that cements his feelings.
It’s ironic, based on the poster from my youth, that I chose a profession because it’s what I felt I had to do and wasn’t about money. I knew I could teach kids. I knew I could teach “problem” kids. To this day I couldn’t tell you how I knew (and know) this, I just did. It is a passion and passions are difficult to articulate, unless you’re Dylan Thomas. In further study of Thomas, I also adopted his “rage against the dying of the light” philosophy. Athletes might say “go hard or go home.” Others might say “talk the talk and walk the walk.” For me, it’s just a matter of doing what I feel I do best in order to help others. It’s the same reason I write. I want to, I have to, I need to.
So back to the moon. I’m enamored with the moon. I love all of the notions that surround it: its effects on the tides, its effects on people’s behaviors, its appearance. One vivid memory is attending a high school football game about fifteen years ago. It was a crisp fall night. I looked across the field at one point and a huge harvest moon was rising. The sight of it took my breath away and I couldn’t even watch the game I was so mesmerized by the sight of the huge disk of light.
The moon will figure into a few scenes in The Quarry’s Child and the lack of it will be integral in one momentous scene. But you’ll have to wait and see how that pans out. For me, I will continue gazing at the moon and thinking about Dylan Thomas’ words.
(This entry is for you Mary Jane Brown!)