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Man Over Moondust

Jul 24, 2019 | Memoir

The spice and the dust

Flavors my insides

Silicates and curries.

Footprints on the brink of my heart, memories of craters and a

Smiling man on a moon over the Catskills in July, 1969,

lost time with my parents and my sister and my childhood dog,

in a bungalow, watching man on the moon.

Too far to taste the dust.

So many years away from tasting the spice

that life will become.

The flavors,

the varieties.

The only spice I know is yellow mustard and red ketchup hardening in old plastic bottles.

The bungalow colony has a day camp.

The counselor leads the other children in a Joan Baez song about

a calf on its way to market

The “calf with a mournful eye.”

They teach me the words and I sing along.

“How the winds are laughing

They laugh with all their might

Laugh and laugh the whole day through

And half the summer’s night.”

Nearby, a boy died and they named a softball field after him.

Farther down the hill, there’s a waterfront with a dock rocking over murky water.

After camp, I attack a rotting tree trunk with a hammer. I see the ants from large colonies, running out in a panic.

I slam down the hammer on the queen and the workers and the eggs and the freshly hatched baby ants.

In the evening, my family takes the car to a drive in theater and we watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

It’s such a ridiculous and jolly movie, but it also frightens me.

And the next evening I sing that song about the mournful calf again.

The spice of moon dust is toxic to man.

Fine like sterile spice it contains

Tiny glass balls.

Silicates carve your insides.

I killed the ants with a hammer.

And a boy tried to stop me.

“Your killing the babies,” he said. “Your killing innocent ants and their children.”

And the next day in camp, I boxed him and he hit me hard.

I stumbled in a daze and the match was over.

And the next day he took the hammer and he killed more ants than I did.

And in the evening, I sat in the bungalow with my sister and my father and we ate my mother’s meatloaf in the screened in porch with large enough holes to allow in a few flies.

We ate our dinner and we waited for man to walk on the moon.



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© Richie Smith 

© Richie Smith