Full Moon Poetry
by Everett A Warren
June 10, 2006
Have you ever noticed that sayings such as "As the crow flies" always seem to have a connotation that differs from what one would expect should they analyse it closely?
Take this saying and translate it to its intent, and what you really come up with is "In a straight-lined path" which is a great simplification of the actual path any bird might take betwixt point A and point B, should they ever arrive at point B in the first place.
So following the given advice, one would think taking side detours for a fragment of shiny or for a small taste of prime road-prepared raw flesh would be quite apropos. Travelling that straight and narrow path would, of course, give way to more important things such as evading or mobbing predators. If one was to travel as the crow flies, one simply must engage in all manner of minor excursions, of storytelling, of crops theft, and of other random mischief.
Mina wasn’t really considering any of that as she tried to reconcile the spoken word with the small, touristy map with the lay of the land. She was, however, wondering about the three dimensional nature of crow-flight, especially in regards to crossing vast expanses of steel, glass and concrete – for the lay of the land had precious little real, actual land in view, unless one counted the caged in bits of earth wherein were planted small, struggling trees or the occasional window box in some of the residential brownstones.
Point A to point B had never seemed clearer then when the old man rattled on about crows, and south easterly, and flying. Point A – her entry to the city – was still clear in her mind, but she wasn’t sure how long that would last. She was fast losing hope of locating point B – Full Moon, a consulting company, with a position awaiting her there – and she had no faith in retaining the ability to trace her way back after another set of twists and turns.
She had thought a city laid out so logically should have been an easy matter for navigation, what with their alphabet marching one way and their numbered avenues another.
She looked around once more, scanning the horizon – which didn’t take much as the buildings led her gaze up, and none too far away – and then looking back across the street.
Well, that was that. The alley way misplaced itself since she left it.
What should have been a simple cut between two digited avenues led instead to a forest of trees. The thought tickled her fancy, for she would have been more at home in a wood of oaks or maples – the latter being the name of the street in this steel-framed forest. Maple not only missed the numbering scheme, it also botched the cross-street alphabet, even if she had been turned around on her way through the alley-that-no-longer-was. That would be far more amazing, she decided – if she had managed to lose her normally excellent sense of direction along with her map-reading skills and her rather normal ability to usually find alley ways after walking a street-width away from them.
She thought briefly of forcing the issue, but she was feeling off-kilter just by being so far from the forest she called home, so far from what she was used to. She hadn’t the nerve to prove that the alley was still there, and that it was just an optical illusion hiding the entry from this angle. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that must be the case, and that was enough for her. It would solve nothing by backtracking, she convinced herself. Just a few minor roads, and this area did look rather recently developed. Nothing to it but to press on, down this way or that, keeping to that imaginary straight line and allowing her unfailing sense of direction to hold true to the goal and arrive safely at point B.
Nothing to it.
~ ~ ~
Now, Kirrelle knew something of wishful thinking, having been a practitioner of such techniques and arts for so very long that it wasn’t even as clumsy as second nature. No, it was more a core of her very being, it was what kept her warm and safe in the darkness of night. And so from where she crouched, it was quite clear that the elegantly dressed modelesque blonde was engaging in just such an activity. More noticeable than the designer scent she wore, the smell was, wafting across concrete and asphalt hot in the summer sun, to tickle the delicate nose, despite the intervening odours of the city street and – far more pungent – of her own person.
Had there been a third observer – which, in some senses there was, or you should never be reading this – there could be contrasts given between Mina and Kirrelle. Given a look in their eyes by one skilled in such matters, it might, however, be determined that they were of an age. Since being so crafty a reader is rare, one might have to go with the assumption that one was a young lady and the other a little girl, and it would be far fairer to make such a guess, if not just as off base with reality.
While you might compare them to apples and oranges, you would, without a doubt, have to admit that both apples and oranges were fruit of broadly similar size and shape that grew on trees of roughly similar size with somewhat like-shaped leaves; trees that had both been cultivated for thousands of years, both likely having their origin somewhere in or around China; and both were sweet and tasty to eat, and among the most popular produce items; and you would thus say that there is more of the similarity about Kirrelle and Mina and less of the difference.
However, if one really knew what to look for, they would be hard pressed to find anything but deep differences in the two, and those who would do so would not compare apples to oranges, rather instead apples to myths and legends, or perhaps oranges to paradox. And while that makes for a much higher degree of accuracy, it does little for clever, witty, if incorrect and inaccurate, sayings.
For all that Kirrelle studied Mina with unblinking intensity, it was not a reciprocal relationship. Indeed, the only time Mina had caught the merest glimpse had been back on 8th Avenue, where Kirrelle snored loudly amongst some refuse, curled up under a sheet of newspaper. A thought on who could so abandon a little child flittered through, but continued on its way before Mina could engage it any further, and Kirrelle was forgotten.
The sympathy, however brief, washed over Kirrelle in waves, far closer to drowning her than the soaking the street cleaner had given her in the pre-dawn hours earlier that day. She sputtered and hissed like a cat thrown to the sea, but she was awake now, the fresh morning edition headlines sliding off even as the evening news, now barely damp, was still clinging to her like papier-mâché. She continued her feline display, stretching and arching her back, and then licking her lips.
Mina had suddenly stopped, reviewed a map, and turned down the alley.
Kirrelle smiled widely, shook out her wildly unkempt mane of hair, unreadable pieces of yesterday’s news flying away from her mud brown locks.
A woman in a pin-striped power suit was checking her PDA as she bumped into Mina, and uttered terse apologies. She did not, however, brush away the bits of pulped newsprint that clung to the dark fabric of her skirt after it splattered there mere moments later, nor did she acknowledge the existence of the crouched form that she stepped around. She checked her heel and blamed the uneven sidewalk as she stumbled after stepping on Kirrelle’s hand.
~ ~ ~
How many streets? How many alley ways? Hell, even the architecture no longer resembled what she’d come to expect.
"City Eats Girl, film at eleven." She threw down the map in disgust. "If you’re going to sell maps, at least try to get a few of the streets right."
She tried to stomp on the map in her anger, but it was floating gently down, to and fro, and she couldn’t get a bead on it, finally getting it stuck to the sole of her pump. In one of the alleys, she had discovered that ancient deposits of coffee form slicks that crawl from dumpsters and try to capture stray travellers, and ever since then it sounded like she was snapping and popping wads of bubble-gum with each step. Provided, she thought glumly, the surface was smooth and dry enough – somehow the dry grit of sandy ways and the filthy, slimy puddles in other parts did nothing but dampen the effect temporarily.
Eyes blinked slowly, glowing in the darkness of a hundred thousand shadows, but she saw them not at all.
Mina kicked back her heel, bending her knee, and retrieved the map, which, of course, stuck to her fingers. She let out an exasperated half-sigh, half-growl, and rolled the map into a ball, flicking it several times until it finally gave way and bounced to the ground, wide of where she had been aiming for, landing in a small stream in the gutter. It began to shift and move with the current, and she quickly stomped down. Filthy water splashed up, and than collapsed down, swirling around her ankle, soaking her Oscar de la Renta pant cuffs as she ground the map into the gutter stream bed.
After a second, she lifted her foot ever so slightly, and the waters claimed the map remnants as theirs, and carried it off downstream. She watched it glide gracefully around a variety of obstructions. She started walking after it, drawn and caught by its dance, thinking how it avoided that bit of spoiled fruit which her heel had pierced, and how it had sailed under the rusting iron bar that had thankfully been light enough that it lifted away, flipping and clanking, when her instep caught it. The suspense of the journey built as she suddenly looked up to see the grate, and then back, to the stately pace the map made, unafraid and unconcerned with what lay ahead.
Mina watched it swirl, once, thrice, and then away, down through the grating, the journey complete – or, at least, this stage. A tear ran down her cheek as she realised that map had represented her last chance of getting to point B, to the job interview, and to the hope for a future where – if she could not afford living as she had been accustomed to, she could, at the least, support herself and make her way in the big city.
"The fuck…" she looked down, suddenly aware that she stood in the swirling nexus of an inner-city river… where waters pooled before travelling down into the unknown, where multi-colour rainbows of oils circled her favourite pair of shoes and were wicked up by her favourite pair of pants, and where… "I stand like a fucking idiot, talking to myself in my head."
She took a step to the curb, towards the sidewalk, and then a step in the other direction, towards the street. Her sense of direction had gone down the drain with the map, seeping out of her cold, wet toes and abandoning a sinking ship, so to speak.
"Doesn’t matter which way I go. Don’t know which way to go."
"You could step out of it."
Mina squinted. The bundle of rags and refuse spoke, but try as she might, she couldn’t see exactly what form the low, grumbling voice might come from.
~ ~ ~
Kirrelle held back in the shadows, curling up intimately with a disc brake and a rusted wheel well. A small burp, quietly kept, and quite satisfying, escaped her pursed lips. She was unable to recall having feasted so well, and she remembered well enough when the apes had climbed down out of the trees and before that when their ancestors had crawled out of the sea.
If only for that reason alone – for the meal, even if it hadn’t been freely given – she decided this one would not be discarded to whatever else might seek sustenance from her. Her optimism had stretched so far, had carried her onward no matter how greedily Kirrelle fed.
Endless labyrinths were adventures; day to night to days to nights seemed mere moments; shambling vagrants were quixotic knights; filth and garbage would wash clean; pouring rains were gentle tropical showers; and dead ends were opportunities to decide upon another path.
More than once Mina had nearly fallen prey to roving gangs of feral youth, but Kirrelle had her charms that could demand attention should she desire it, and if it kept her own prey safe from harm, she was more than desirous. She only had to take more violent action on several chance occurrences, where their greed was not sated by her wiles alone.
Now, she had fed her last from Mina, and the last hopes floated down into the sewers and away. Now Mina would begin to realise she was lost. Now she would be overtaken by grief and despair.
~ ~ ~
"Beg pardon?" Mina squinted at the location of the voice, but still saw nothing. She thought briefly of the oracle from that children’s show, fribbles, or gaggles, or something. It made her smile and warm to her own, wisdom-granting trash heap.
"I said you could just step out of it. Meaning the stream."
"I suppose I could, but where would the fun be in that? I have no where to go." Mina shivered in the cool air of the autumn night, oddly warmed as the waters tugged at her by degree.
"You could stand there, then, while the waters still run. In a few nights, the frost will come, and on the surface, they will freeze. It is nothing to me."
"Oh, now you might have hurt my feelings. I would have hoped you would enjoy my company." Mina swished one of her feet in the water, and wondered why she was worried about getting her pants and shoes wet before. These pants she had on certainly weren’t new, nice looking, or even presentable. She could see one knee through a tear, itself looking like it had a rather raw scrape in the last few days, and her skin just as grime-coated as the pants. "If I stood here forever, would you stay there to talk with me?"
The source of the voice laughed, deep and rich, but not nasty in any way. "No, sweet girl, I am here now, but I am other places at other times. There are plenty of places here for me, plenty of things discarded, for that is my realm."
Mina nodded. "That’s good. I can do that too."
"You are dirty enough to have dominion over refuse, but that’s my lot and I won’t give it up easily."
"Oh, no, silly. I don’t want trash. That’s yours, and I wouldn’t have it any different." Mina squatted down, hands swirling in the icy waters. "This is mine. This is what I can do." She held up a handful of cold, filthy water to her lips and blew softly, spraying it across the short distance of the sidewalk.
The voice in the trash pile sighed.
"Was it good for you?" Mina laughed, her voice sounding like rain in an alleyway.
The trash pile shifted, and a short, bearded man began to emerge, stepping just to the edge and holding out a filthy hand. "Friends?"
She took his hand. "Of course, silly, weren’t we always?" Just as he kept a foot in the refuse behind him, she kept a toe in the stream in the gutter, and leaned across the distance, kneeling on the sidewalk. She gave him a kiss on his forehead, and the rain began to drip down on him.
"Kirrelle, you can come out now…" Mina turned to look at the rusted hulk of a car, and at the startled expression on the face of the sylph. Mina laughed as the rain began to fall harder, cascading onto the roofs around them, running along gutters and down rainspouts, and around her.
"I suppose the gasp gave me away," Kirrelle looked wryly at the old hob, and then to this creature she thought she had come to know.
"Silly, I’ve known you were there for some time now. You helped keep me going, knowing that I was helping you… I just didn’t... know that until now."
Kirrelle approached slowly, almost tentatively, as if she was going to bolt at any minute. She wrinkled up her nose. "That doesn’t make sense, you know."
"I know," Mina laughed, then twirled, large drops pattering down louder during her swirl, then settling back down.
"Of course it makes sense," said the hob, "it just depends on your point of view." He looked up at the starless sky and then blinked out the drops of water from his eyes.
"It sounds like someone tattled…" the sylph glared accusingly at the hob.
"Not I, not I." The hob looked up once more. "She went looking for something, and she found it. It just wasn’t what she thought it would be."
"Ha! She’s right, not about me, but you’re not making any sense, you know! But you didn’t know her name until you heard me say it, so it was clearly not you who told me."
"Who was it?" Kirrelle looked back at Mina questioningly. "And you’re name… you’re not Mina anymore, are you?"
Mina smiled. "Not really. Once I knew what you were, I just opened my eyes. I’ll still be Mina for you, though."
"Sometimes." Mina stepped out of the rushing waters in the gutter, dancing in the rain. "Sort of."
Kirrelle shook her hair out, something she was always fond of doing, especially in the pouring rain. She smiled as Mina whirled and twirled around her, taking her hand and leading her in the dance.
"How?" asked Kirrelle, as they moved with the rhythm of the falling water. Mina dipped Kirrelle, then through her own head back and laughed through the rain, her voice the same as the drops of water.
"You didn’t stop all of them from feeding on me, I had to occupy myself somehow while you were off protecting me. They thought they were taking bits and pieces of me unaware but those were gifts freely given, never taken."
"With you, though, I gave it all, and when the last bits were washed away, I became who I really am." Mina smiled widely, and Kirrelle thought she saw a rainbow form across the alleyway.
~ ~ ~
Well, there you have it, I suppose. I could mention how she slips through the grates into the sewers, remaining free and unfrozen during the cold winter months in the city. I could mention how she comes to visit me, to grace me with her refreshing storms. I could, perhaps, even tell you how I told her about following the way crows fly, and how she did it the proper way, and did not follow a straight line.
I could tell you more of Kirrelle as well, and perhaps some time I might.
But I see you scratching your head and thinking this old hob is a bit daft, if he thinks even such a thing as Kirrelle would be so dazzled as to think a rainbow could appear in the darkness of night.
I think, though, you will be able to figure out how all that came to pass when I remind you that she did, indeed, reach point B, for she asked me how to find something, and I told her.
And once she found the full moon, it opened right up to her, and whispered secrets in her ear.
I can guess some of them – the purpose, if not the content – but if you want to hear them for yourself, just listen to the rain on tin roofs, rushing down in rainspouts, splashing in puddles, and running along in gutters.
If you listen close enough, you just might learn a thing or two.
Copyright (c) 2006 Everett Ambrose Warren