|Michael Lowe | Photos by Patti Blake|
Our ancestors quaked in fear on nights when the moon turned dark and red, interpreting the event as a warning of evil times or the anger of their gods. For me, at least, the reaction was mild disappointment at a natural spectacle passing invisibly beyond the cloud cover.
But now I have to wonder if it’s worse to know what you’re missing than to discover that you miss something only after it’s gone?
… Bear with me here as I search for the metaphor that will tie these concepts together.
|Me, reading from 'Caliban'|
Tuesday night, I participated at Writers Gallery, a
monthly gathering of local
writers at Chez Amavida coffee shop in Panama
City. The event is an open mic night, with writers
reading their recent work — poems, short stories, excerpts. In past months, the event filled
the venue to capacity, but this week few people read or attended to listen.
A young woman remarked that Writers Gallery should be packed because the area is home to a number of writers in all genres, not to mention people who love to read. But
Lowe, a poet and fiction writer who has tried to promote the event, said he
expected Writers Gallery to fade away soon because of flagging attendance.
“I’m no Nick May …” Michael suggested, referring to the young author who established Writers Gallery a few years ago, moving it from Joey’s Java Juice to other venues until settling at Chez Amavida; Nick and his wife, Kayla, moved to
Pensacola recently to
support a branch of Northstar Church,
placing the fate of Writers Gallery in the hands of its participants.
Attendance has steadily declined since then, Michael said. With only three readers on Tuesday, the handwriting was on the wall.
About that time, the shop’s sound system — the background soundtrack for our conversation — began playing “Bring on the Dancing Horses” by Echo and the Bunnymen, a song that always seemed to be more about the end of an era than simple self-destruction.
(In retrospect, I’m wondering if it referred to those of us who nervously stood up to read as being little more diverting than dancing horses. “Shiver and say the words of every lie you’ve ever heard,” the song continues.)
But at that moment, I thought about signs and portents, which made me reconsider the eclipse. The “blood moon.”
Harbinger of the end
times. In case we didn’t get the message the first time around (or, as happened
locally, the eclipse was called on account of rain) the gods have decreed four
blood moons between last Tuesday and September of 2015.
These events are caused, scientists will tell you, because the orbit of the full moon takes it through the Earth’s umbral shadow, cast because the sun is at the opposite side of the planet at just the right angle for us to see the shadow envelope our heavenly orb. The red coloration appears because the faint ring of sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere falls on the lunar surface like the crimson glow of a sunset.
There will be other chances to see these eclipses in
come, just as there will be other chances to listen or share at Writers Gallery
in months to
You know what you’re missing now. If you miss it in the future, it’s on you — or perhaps you can blame it on the weather. In either case, it likely won’t mean the end of the world, just the eventual absence of something some of us think is special.