Water from the Moon
Between us, there was
“a claustrophobic intimacy,”
but is all fear bad
or does it just set
of what we can handle?
And what are we afraid of?
The truth, perhaps?
30 October 1986
Both “a claustrophobic intimacy” and “water from the moon” are quotes. I suspect the latter is from the 1982 film The Year of Living Dangerously. The expression is used by Javanese PKI-member Kumar and when Guy Hamilton asks him to explain it he responds, “It's an old Javanese saying. Means something one cannot ever have.” In his monograph (which he actually entitles Water from the Moon: Illusion and Reality in the Works of Australian Novelist Christopher Koch) Jean-Francois Vernay quotes from chapter 14 of Koch’s novel where a slightly different definition is given: “It means: anything impossible.” Apparently Koch heard this first from his Indonesian assistant when he was working for UNESCO in Jakarta and for a while it was the working title for the book that finally became The Year of Living Dangerously.
For the record:
On 24 September 2009 Science magazine reported that the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-1 had detected water on the Moon.
Lunar scientists had discussed the possibility of water repositories for decades. They are now increasingly “confident that the decades-long debate is over” a report says. “The Moon, in fact, has water in all sorts of places; not just locked up in minerals, but scattered throughout the broken-up surface, and, potentially, in blocks or sheets of ice at depth.” The results from the Chandrayaan mission are also “offering a wide array of watery signals.” – Wikipedia
The other expression I’m struggling with. Many, many writers have used it over the years and I can see why; it’s a good expression, evocative. No idea where I first heard it or read it.
The poem’s deliberately vague. It’s a bookmark for my memory. It takes me to a place and a time and resurrects feelings I’ve long lost touch with. It reminds me of a me I’ve not been in a long time and rather wish I’d never been. I have little doubt that others will find ways to apply it to their own lives.
Fear is a warning. Fear is a reminder—“Have you thought this through? Are you sure this is where you want to go? You do know there’s no coming back”—but that’s all. Like pain it can be ignored but always at a cost.