I am night. I know when the moon rises, overdue, from its Tysoe Hill cradle: slowed by that earthly, all-too-human two-hundred-metre climb. The door closed, I anticipate its deflating, almost-rugby-ball form (one-fifth, by this time, spent soot); its brilliance – already mirrored by the sentinel freshly-steamed, gently-flaking haddock clouds – even its transcendent power to push apart those insubstantial, misty wafers; to flaw them further, exile them to the four corners of the still-light sky: their slow shimmers waving the constellations in and out of perception; whilst the liminal echo of sunset, still, over Oxhill, reinforced by Stratford’s incessant orange insult, outlines the opposing horizon. What I do not foresee – although nearly thirty of our planet’s spans distant – is its affable enormity: how it looms in the dim welkin with ether-expanded warmth. And thus I am saddened, as my companion ascends beyond my reach, that it dwindles, draws back, as if ashamed of its luminous monopoly.
This nocturne is thus anything but starless; and yet it is the sensuous Dylan Thomas and his voluptuous words that spring to the surface of my midsummer mind. Friday has rolled unheeded, by most, into Saturday. Villagers are later home; later to sleep; perchance, correspondingly later to emerge. And, therefore, many houses are yet as vigilant as ravens: their cowled, sometime-curtained eyes regularly gaping wide; occasionally blinkered by the passing of a shifty, shifting profile; or flicked blue by the dream-stopping, probably-no-longer-small-screen dumbness. Curiously, the regular pulse of coloured lamps streams high through the almost-darkness (felt, not heard); and hurtling drivers temporarily blind my bible-black-acquainted vision with their haste: rendering me all the more mole-like. But, as a habituated noctambulist, I am alone, as always: solitary “as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump…” – and the church clock presents its tongue-tied time only at the insistence of those penetrating lunar beams.
Listen. It is night moving in the streets, the processional salt slow musical wind in Coronation Street and Cockle Row, it is the grass growing on Llareggub Hill, dewfall, starfall, the sleep of birds in Milk Wood.
I am night. Between the gravestones, I hear otherwise-forgotten, undone dreams and stolen songs; witness withered oaths. I am often here; therefore familiar as the cooling breeze. This is a convivial place: I am trusted with cloistered conceits and misremembered musings; repeatedly sworn to the silence I so desire. But a belly-laugh bursts, balloon-like, from a far, open, impertinent pane; and collapses – thankfully – as quickly to oblivion. Such quietude beckons me on, calls me out. I rustle my adieus. Intimate night will return. I promise. There are sighs.
Time passes. Listen. Time passes.
All too soon I am home, key in hand. No longer will feet fall, or boots tread on Tysoe’s welcoming walkways. The frequent foxes will cough only to themselves; the owls laugh at our timidity. I am night. In the swarthiness above, the moon smiles.