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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 22 page 19


If the moon is not yet there, wait for it to appear. Be patient. Get comfortable and plan to wait no more than twenty-four hours. As long as you are looking east, the moon will eventually rise before your eyes. Few are the guarantees in life, but this is one of them. Use your time wisely. Memorize some Shakespearean sonnets or Keatsian odes. No one memorizes poetry anymore, perhaps you can bring the practice back into fashion.

When the moon appears, greet it with one of your freshly memorized lines of poetry — it will set a nice tone for your relationship. Don’t overdo it. Sounding too floral will send the wrong message. Something simple will do.

Now that you’ve found the moon, find it again any time in the future by knowing that it rises about an hour later every day. You can now prepare yourself and begin to look forward to the moon’s appearance. In half an hour, you can say to your lover (if you have one) over your last spoonful of chocolate mousse, the moon will rise. This simple statement will enrich your character with a cosmic dimension that he or she would never have suspected.

Once you have some experience finding the moon at various times of day and night, you should expand your horizons to view it from interesting locations. Watch the moon from the middle of a field or the edge of a forest. Channel the spirit of Jean-François Millet on the sheep meadow or Van Gogh at Arles. Take a canoe out to the middle of a calm lake at midnight and look at the moon with your lover. Borrow one if you have to (either a canoe or a lover). Tell him or her that you are embarking on a Great Thing and you need their help to execute it properly. Who could refuse? Listen to the sound of your paddle in the water, the call of a distant shore-bird. This is moon-viewing at its most sublime.

Expect the unexpected, like when you awake at 3 a.m. in need of a glass of water. As you trundle into the kitchen, before turning on the light, notice, there, to your surprise and delight, the moonlight on the kitchen floor.

Get the window seat for your next appropriately scheduled trans-oceanic flight and while your seat-mates are snoozing, admire the light of the full moon illuminating the clouds and ocean from 35,000 feet. Such moonglow is almost worth waking your neighbor for. Do so at your own risk.

Travel to Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India, where you can watch the sun set into the Indian Ocean to the west and the full moon rise out of the Indian Ocean to the east. Bring a lawn chair that can swivel, otherwise you’ll strain your neck. Baja California, Iceland, Tasmania and any number of Greek or Caribbean islands are also good bets. Check your atlas.

Don’t be as dramatic as the 12th-century Japanese poet Saigyō who hoped to leave the world amid the fragrance of the cherry blossoms on the eve of the full moon. (He was, as it happened, successful.) Nor as romantic as the 8th-century Tang Dynasty poet, Li Po, who drowned while embracing a reflection of the moon.

Create a month-long pilgrimage to see the full moon. This will be a good warm-up in case you ever decide to walk the pilgrim’s route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain or around Mount Kailash in Tibet. The great Japanese haiku poet Basho organized several pilgrimages for himself to see the autumn full moon from a good location. One time he was rained out but he still managed to write exquisite poetry about it. Travel to Japan. They have their own word, tsukimi, for moon-viewing. Go. You work too hard anyway. Have some sushi with your tsukimi. Write a haiku about your adventures. Pay more attention to the “aha” moment than the rule of seventeen syllables and you’ll have a chance at lasting fame. Aspire to emulate one of Basho’s gems:

Clouds come and go,
let a fellow relax:

Soon you’ll see that you can spend a lifetime looking at the moon. Really, you should.