The Mooncatcher’s Dream
by David E. Perry
The gardener awoke at three minutes past three, sensing some unfamiliar swirl within the envelope of night. He sniffed the air and listened closely, keeping still for several minutes, sifting through each sound and smell, cataloguing them within the library of his mind. He waited for insight but that strange sense of promise that had awakened with him neither revealed itself nor diminished. He slid his bare feet onto the carpeted floor, quietly pulling on his pants and shirt before shuffling downstairs.
Hazy moonlight, still bright despite its two-night journey past full illuminated the autumn garden beyond his kitchen window, piercing a thin, chilled veil of fog.
He stepped into a pair of old shoes and through the back door, emerging into a shimmering pool of moon-damp starlight. He looked skyward, relishing the peppering of chilled droplets colliding with his bed-warmed face …and then he froze.
Silhouetted just above his head and against the cool glow of Earth’s nearest companion the dark outline of an eight-legged magician came slowly into focus, seemingly unaware of him. She was immense, though not imposing and continued working within the pregnant nighttime silence, enlarging and refining a project of almost unfathomable beauty and ambition.
“So it’s you,” he thought. “…you who have been creating such strange ripples within the fabric of these whispered hours.”
“I felt you.” he sighed. “ I actually came out here because of you, because, I swear, I heard you calling to me from my dreams.”
“It was you calling?” he whispered, suddenly less certain.
She did not respond.
Less than an arm’s length ahead of him and stretching outward from unseen moorings hung an immense, dew-laden web running north to south. In its highest, farthest reaches presided the magnificent creature which had imagined and spun it, methodically plucking and weaving a dozen translucent cables to give her web further form and strength, securing it firmly against the night sky.
The gardener’s familiar world seemed to fade and dissolve as this new one shimmered and glowed, a universe of grand ambitions flickering through a torn veil.
“Your web,” he questioned, “is it to capture some sort of immensity?” His mind reeled.
Perhaps a star catcher’s net, he wondered, stretched tight across an ocean of sky to harness moonlight, amplify magic.
“Have you woven it to harvest dreams?” he asked then, for it seemed clear that only a dreamer could have engineered such a fearless masterpiece before climbing its swaying cables to reach out and touch the moon.
He stood silent, then, rubbing his callused hands together, trying to take it all in: the web, its engineer, the near-full moon. The world before him arcked and stretched, and with it, his imagination until the veil of reality seemed as thin as a soap-bubble.
Still silent, the orb-weaver continued working within the glow of shared moonlight and the gardener’s unsuspecting heart began to swell with awe. Time stood inert until the gardener’s jackletless silhouette began to shiver involuntarily. He considered turning away, releasing himself from the trance cast by those eight, needle-thin legs stretching and pulling silken cables into perfect, beaded tension, the ballet of attaching them somehow to the unlimited walls of space. But the motions and moonlight were too hypnotic. So he surrendered to the cold and in capitulation, his body calmed. Each slow exhale pried loose another stubborn wisp of disbelief releasing it into the damp air, releasing him and his questioning imagination further, until finally his wild sense of spinning and uncertainty faded and he began to grok the creature’s intrepid plan.
She kept on, balanced there within the highest reaches of that star-kissed web, suspended, throwing immense, silken loops outward into the moonlit void. This webmaster was lost within the act of creation, spinning a tapestry of near-invisible cables, weaving a captor’s purse. While the world around her slept, this wondrous, intrepid, eight-legged goddess was attempting to capture the very moon, itself. And she was succeeding.
Here then was an act of genius and raw audacity in the very moment of its creation. Here was the unveiling of a fleeting, glowing masterpiece, witnessed only by its creator and by two, sleepy human eyes called from some far lesser dream to witness the ascension of hers.
“You are magnificent!” The words formed themselves within the gardener’s grateful mind and slipped from his reticent tongue. “…completely, utterly magnificent!”
Her shimmering web shuddered momentarily then, a thousand dewdrops strung upon quivering strings, as the gardener exhaled those awed vowels and consonants, aloud, realizing just how rare a thing it must be to be awakened by a spider, called away from one’s own dreams to witness the dreams of another …as she deftly captures the moon.
Words and images ©2014, David E. Perry. All rights reserved.
Technical info: The illustration was captured with my iPhone in the moonlight and enhanced with a couple of photo apps including Handy Photo and Mextures.