‘The sky moon of fire and the river moon of water, I am taking these home in a basket.’ -- Carl Sandburg
Once there lived a poor fisherman. Only he wasn't poor, as in lacking ropes of diamonds or the luxury of wealth. Given the blueprint for success one magical night, he turned rich beyond his wildest dreams. After which he yearned to be poor once again.
God knows he had gazed often enough at the starry heavens, for the planets, the sun and moon to help him on his road to riches.
This ‘poor’ fisherman lived a solitary life in a faraway land on the pebbly shores of a little fishing village. His home was a wooden hut snuggled in the shadows of the deep green seas. He harbored one fervent wish. He longed desperately to return to the life he once knew, of frugality and peace — the world of harmony that he had lost. If only life would permit such a re-configuration. But life could not, as his grandma once said, once the stuffing falls out of the turkey — crrackk-Sizzzle-annnd-Pop! His impulses had, his transformation to wealth complete.
In the normal scheme of things, a man of means only seeks to turn richer, craving more wealth. Alas, not so our fisherman — the laws of such aesthetics failing to adjudicate on his behalf. This strange wish that he harbored was to turn poor again. It baffled his village, bouncing between the wealth he was given and this craziest of wishes. But such was the cosmic blueprint he received, of life’s purple dreams.
Each morn that he arose, he would stare longingly at his callused hands, and yearn for the simple happiness that he once knew, with a small hut for a house, and straw for a roof. He had been content then, with his daily catch of a few fish, which he sold in the marketplace, in exchange for some bread, and a sip of fine wine. How happy he then was! Oh, for those halcyon days to return!
But the planets had spoken. A day came when he could not catch a single fish, although the oceans spawned millions. Distressed at his lack of good fortune his thoughts turned to home, where frogs croaked in the fields, awakening the wolves, setting them a-howling, for the super blood moon.
Out of the tattered sky the fire moon rose, full orbed and red. The poor fisherman could only stare in amazement at the intense sky spectacle, hard-wired as he was against mystical occurrences, and the magic of nature. Many an occasion had he viewed such a sight. But not one such as this, ravishing the waves, inflaming the waters, turgid and foaming, as she descended from above in silver-blood glitters.
Now the poor fisherman was a man of the moon. He languished by it. He chose his calling by it. Not a day went past when he did not call to the moon, his harbinger of destiny, to guide him safely through the winds and the waves. Never a moment passed when he did not seek his capricious mistress of the skies. He was not to know that his night had arrived; how the starry maiden having heard his faint cry, would hand him the blueprint, that would change his life.
Disguised as a cabochon, nearer she drew, radiating the firmament in bands of light. And in the sudden brightness slicing the darkness, a jeweled voice rose. Or so he imagined. T'was the voice of the moon, speaking in fragments of hushed raw silk, which he could no longer ignore or deny.
He listened with misgivings, deliriously awed. And lo and behold, through the swelling surge, he espied a giant clam, lying in his nets, mingling amorously amidst the seaweed and blue crabs. It looked a wondrous find. In dead earnest he looked again, exclaiming aloud, smelling the salt of the rolling tides.
Seized by a moment of instant madness he hastily picked up the oyster, cradling it gently. Bursting to be freed, the furrowed shell cracked, spilling an unmatched glow. The iridescence in his hands matched the moon’s bright luster, netting the stars in moon dust tentacles. Darkness was swallowed. The fisherman trembled. Was he asleep or awake? Such dreams he had not. His astonishment over-powered, his expectant eyes feasted, when out fell a pretty round ball, pearly rust colored, large as a pumpkin, harvested in fall. The fisherman gasped at the moon of the heavens, wrapped in soft gauze, lying in his mottled hands.
“What’s this?” he cried. His screams were lost in the mighty ocean, not even an echo remained. He had not seen such an elegant object, and never once a pearl — a real margarita pearl, glowing chiffon rust golden, as the spice tinted moon lifted over the seas.
The winds and the waters danced wildly in joy, for the two rare margaritas — the one in his hands, delicate as dew, the other on the waves, darting like a moth. His brain bubbled over.
“Be calm! Be calm!” the suspended ghost whispered, as the fisherman turned bound for home. Moon-forgot. Enchanted by lunar perspectives the poor fisherman had eyes only for his new true love. Only the moon reveals mysteries, when vision is blurred, said the ghost. What a marvelous thought! Alas for the fisherman, he did not hear. So he hurried to shore, blueprint in hand, with scarcely a glance at his old bed-fellow — the copper moon, waxing in blood.
The village rejoiced. What luck! What fortune! They sang and they whooped.
They feasted and drank, on salmon and wine. They toasted each other! He’s brought us the moon, they hollered in glee. He’s captured the moon? Nothing flowed that made sense. But not to this village of fisher-moon babies, too moon-struck to see. They continued to frolic. They whirled and they twirled. A margarita pearl! A genuine real pearl! Too rare to exist. So unheard of, that it scarcely existed. The story took wings, blasted afar. It fanned and it spread like a prairie wildfire. Whosoever it reached succumbed to the magic of the margarita mulse.
As the word spread to lands far away, the fisherman’s wondrous find took on strange tidings, some rumored, some true. Tales have a way of signaling more intrigues, to twist and beguile. Money hungry villagers grasped for more. "Fellow men pay heed! For the gift we've been given. Let’s treat it as such.”
The pleas of the fisherman fell on deaf ears. Caught in the throes of instant wealth, every last one of them, they powered up their boats, and took to the waters where the pearl had been found. They trawled and they harvested millions of oysters, and soon built a beach of mountains of shells, over hundred feet high. It was a staggering sight.
Soon travelers flocked from far and near. When stakes are high, well-meaning friends arrive in droves, strangers all, willing simply to gaze upon the moon’s liquefaction. It was only a matter of time for the poor fisherman to succumb, the lacuna of his mind dreaming of a goodly life, financially secure, forever more.
One day, great men of wisdom arrived. They carried good news for the lucky fisherman, to realize his dreams of riches untold. The day they arrived was the day of dark sphere. The no-luna moon. Little did the fisherman know what luck was to follow.
The moon does not float in a gossamer path forever. She waxes and wanes. The moon casts her shadow in cold saucerfuls. The fisherman did not see, entranced as he was by the dance of his pearl, light as a shimmer. Dark as a raven the moon’s sphere did move, obscuring the skies in fistfuls of silence, when the men of wisdom chose to arrive. Luck performs poorly when the sphere is absent, argued in earnest — those who knew, those who cared.
Forsake your sparkling pearl, the wise men said, nodding solemnly. They spoke in laws, elliptical as the moon’s, laying out the rules. He would have to sell, to the highest bidder. To clever businessmen, arriving in jets, primed in the art of buying-and-selling, experienced in the craft of making good offers. The riches would pour. Opportunities would soar. He would grow rich; own islands and yachts. He could fish forever; whenever he wanted; wherever he wanted; tuna and marlin and pike and sea bass. The options were endless. More pearls to be found. Just think of that! More wealth to secure.
Alack! Alas! Knowledge of finance the poor fisherman had none. The epicurean treat of the twinkling margarita, efficacious as a laser, that poured in purple, blending plum as a cocktail, kept rising in glitters. Powerful moment for the fisherman, confused beyond repair. Take his precious pearl away? Trade his jewel for wealth? Trade his solitude for fame? His margarita moon of chiffon rust gold? Where his lifeline was tied?
How could that be? He felt his heart break. He thought he would die. He could never part with his luminous moon-pearl. It was his moment of truth.
And as the fisherman wept, he felt moon marooned. He felt moon unblessed. He had heard it said that the moon was a poison, to some outcast. The village would jeer.
The village did jeer. His community of peers — snug in their canopy atop mounded oyster shells, growing higher and higher, they could touch the sky. He fell into brooding. His health declined. He thought of his once peaceful good life in a tiny small village in a little house by the sea, that could never be. He had had it all. Once. It was now no more. The life he had forfeited to another distant shore.
With a heart that was heavy came the time for good-bye. There was pain attached. He ran hither and thither, seeking ways to conceal — hide his treasured pearl. Maddened by grief he did not wish it found. He did not want it sold. Not to the highest bidder. Not to anyone. Not ever. First he buried it in a hole in the ground. He thought it was safe. Only it wasn’t. Then he carried it into a cave of rocks. There to stay lost. Only it couldn’t. Then under the mounded shells. Then the sand dunes. Then a cage of steel. All means were tried. But to no avail. None to seize upon. He ran out of options. The more he hid, the brighter it shone. The lustrous nacre of his creamy rose pearl, could never stay hidden. It was there, for the whole world to view, its filaments braided in the moon’s long hair, spilling over the waves.
What now of the blueprint? His blueprint to wealth? What now of the billions and billions of shells? Crowding the shores, oyster reefs and sea beds? The poor fisherman lost all peace of mind, and even passion to fish. To discern the moon’s coppery journey requires a certain wisdom, which the fisherman lacked. He broke into pieces. It takes great cunning to hide a huge fortune, said the army of know-it-alls, singing in chorus, a cappella, like a musical ensemble of wild choral singers, striving to understand the fisherman’s misery. The louder they sang, the more aggrieved did they turn, at the lack of a find of a similar sea pearl. They had eaten their way through shell after shell. But nary such a pearl would an oyster deliver, the harder they searched.
If only! That magical night of the full blood moon, if only he had heard the silvery silence. If only he had turned, bound for home. If only he had heard the cry of the oysters. If only he had tossed the pearl back to the seas. There to rest on the ocean floor; to dance in waves of cerulean blue; to crest in joy with the crimson moonbeams… waxing silver in shadows . . . If only.
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