I never realized the moonrise was so bloody. It hangs over the hazy lights of the city like an attacking alien planet, looking much more like Mars than Mars, which actually looks like a star, and is only slightly red if you squint really, really hard.
Outside the city, on an empty access road, I get the best view I can afford, but even here in the prairies, I am resentful of all the things in my way. I’ve reaffirmed my vague ambition to drive to the desert and sleep under the stars sometime.
I can imagine the huddled masses of early humanity out on some ancient plain in the night, lying around a dying fire, and being right there, citizens of the universe in ways that we in the space age rarely manage. We all watch television instead and blot out near-infinity with crowded buildings and obnoxious streetlights.
For the first time I witness the Moon in all its violent glory. It mimics the sunrise in colour, but its raggedy scarecrow expression gives it the appearance of a morbid marionette. Yet I am captivated. It has only just begun to wane, and I am stirred by its impressive weight as it first enters the night sky. It dominates and subjugates everything else, and I’m amazed I’ve never once seen it quite like this. Powerful. Ancient. And still so indescribably alien.
The colour drains from it as it rises. Within minutes, the hue is more orange than red, then a wan yellow, and finally, the familiar pale ghost that we most often observe in its pilgrimage. As the moon becomes more its familiar self, I am increasingly distressed. It is like witnessing a colossal death. Within 20 minutes of moonrise, the face is of a bloodless corpse.
Beginning with its own violent end, the wraith of the moon haunts the night sky until the sun arrives to chase it away. With the return of nightfall, it arises to die once again, in an endless reverse phoenix cycle. I never knew it. I only ever saw the ghost. This nightly tragedy is the best-kept secret of our modern apathy. The drama of the heavens goes unsung. We don’t live in the universe anymore.