John Ewen writes poetry, short stories, non-fiction and plays. His work has been published in New Zealand magazines and anthologies, the online literary magazine Five Dials and broadcast by Radio New Zealand.
Missing the Magic
It wasn’t a big deal, just a little boost of spirit
starting with Daniel the TV weatherman. I know
him so well we’re on first name terms, at least
in one direction. He said we’d have clear skies
that night, a sunny day to follow, before the monster
the Antarctic beast, would bury below snow
all that he could touch. But I’d forgotten the phases
of the moon, like emoticons in the paper
showing its waxing and its waning, and by
some sorcery, predicting the precise times it would rise
and set, exact to the minute. So, stepping out
the back at night I was startled by the moon
pushing through the topmost trees on our closest
hill, coming up through spiky branches
as though it would be scored and scratched.
I went inside for binoculars for a better look
only to see when I came back a pockmarked face
dissolving in entangling clouds.
When I looked in the morning darkness for the paper
the moon was now in front but slimmer
as if those branches had scraped its sides away.
It had journeyed all night from hill towards horizon
and I knew that in between, I had missed the magic
of that ghostly world when every tree or house
every wall or fence appears to be half-formed
ethereal in a pearly light – a place enchanted
for those hours, a world not ours.
We watched our TV screens that afternoon.
The same knowhow that sent man to the Moon
enabled us to be there, see them walk
upon its surface, even hear them talk.
There was a common pride, the human race
at last had made its first small steps in space.
We’d known about the risks, the danger they would
not get back, and knew they too understood.
But what we did not know, and nor did they
that danger still continued, it would stay
in them as cardio-vascular disease
and the lunar triumphs’ antitheses
those heart-stopping moments upon the Moon
would one day stop their hearts on Earth too soon.