I’d been staring at screens and books all day and had to get out of the house, to feel my body moving and my gaze unbounded. The sun had set an hour ago; the full moon was just rising. Leaving the dishes unwashed, I got myself out the door.
After days of cold rain, the weather had changed and the night air had a sensuous feel—teasing amounts of warmth and moisture. Sweater weather. The leaves had begun to fall in earnest, fresh piles waiting to be kicked or walked through. People were outside enjoying themselves, reveling in the mild evening.
I headed towards the footbridge, away from the houses and buildings obstructing the sky. I had no idea in which direction the moon would be rising. The bridge over the river would provide the clearest 360° view around.
Neighborhood guys played basketball under the street lights at the park. Rush hour traffic was over. At the stoplight, I crossed Memorial Drive with the runners, reaching the ribbon of bike path and green space along the Charles River.
Looking back over my shoulder, I saw the moon, glowing like a halo behind a red cupola. I’d have to wait a few minutes for it to rise to full view.
Music was coming from the concrete pedestrian bridge—keyboard and violin. I approached, looking for buskers. There were no musicians, only pairs of dancers waltzing across the middle of the bridge. One wireless speaker, the size of a beer can, provided the soundtrack.
I felt like I was in a Fellini scene, though rather than Italian movie stars, the dancing couples seemed ordinary. A short man ran the show—clapping out the rhythm, adjusting arm positions, whispering in ears. Was this a dance class spontaneously moved outdoors? Were these awkward pairs preparing for their own wedding receptions? They seemed both tentative and enchanted.
Cyclists crossed the bridge, barely slowing as they weaved between the couples. Other couples, out for a walk, stopped to watch the dancers. Tourists took selfies. Students crossed the bridge without looking up from their phones.
I walked to the far end of the bridge and turned around, not wanting to cross the adjoining footbridge over the six-lane highway. The moon, now high and bright in the sky, was a surprise, even when expected. Hunter’s Moon, time of harvest and slaughter. I’d come to hunt the moon itself. Why did seeing it give me so much joy?
And there, in the water, too. Reflection of reflection. And so many other moons: street lights, head lights, lights in tall buildings. Too much light and not enough.
The moon was officially full that evening, a finished circle of white. Completeness never lasts. The dancers were still dancing when I crossed back over the bridge. I’d like to say they were holding each other tighter. The moon, appearing and disappearing in the overcast sky, followed me home.