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A thousand moons ago

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published May 30, 2021 5:00 am

I remember being a little girl maybe around five years old, lying in bed beside my Mommy while she read me a poem before going to sleep. 

I remember still the tone of her voice, her fragrance, as if it were happening just last night:

Wynken, Blynken and Nod, one night sailed off in a wooden shoe, sailed on a river of crystal light into a sea of dew. 

“Where are you going and what do you wish?” the Old Moon asked the three. 

“We have come to fish for the herring-fish that live in this beautiful sea; nets of silver and gold have we,” said Wynken, Blynken and Nod.

This lovely childhood poem was written by Eugene Field, an American poet who wrote poems for children of my generation whose mothers thought of buying their children books because there was no TV then. 

Lucky children whose mothers bought them Childcraft, an encyclopedia for children that carried beautifully illustrated childhood poems and firmly ingrained in us a fondness for the sea and a definite love for the moon.

I don’t know if I remember it accurately but it was dark for a while and then the daylight came again. Or maybe I was just dreaming the whole thing. That’s what the moon does for me. It makes me dreamy.

My deadline is Thursday so I write this the day after the last lunar eclipse took place. I wanted to watch it so badly, to see for myself the big red moon media described but I couldn’t see it from where I lived.

I peeped out all our windows and saw no moon at all. I begged my husband to allow me to keep one of our bedroom blinds open. I saw the moon at five in the morning. It was fuzzy, a bright yellow against a dull light blue sky. It was more vibrant than the moon usually is, but it was neither red nor orange. I missed the eclipse again!

I thought about the first eclipse I witnessed in grade school, when the whole world darkened for us. I remember being scared but also breathlessly fascinated that it got so dark so early in the afternoon. 

I don’t know if I remember it accurately but it was dark for a while and then the daylight came again. Or maybe I was just dreaming the whole thing. That’s what the moon does for me. It makes me dreamy.

I think it’s a Winken, Blinken and Nod hangover. Okay, why did I spell it “Wynken” at first then changed over to “Winken”? Because, from my childhood, I remember it was spelled with an “i.” But when I looked it up in Google in preparation for this article, it was spelled with a “y.” 

I thought I had to call attention to this because these days, the US Secretary of State is Antony Blinken. Maybe no relation to Eugene Field’s Blinken. But he does remind me of Winken, Blinken and Nod.

But I digress.  Until I got married three years ago, I enjoyed following the moon. I lived in a flat with two terraces and got a view of the moon initially as a slice, then as a half, then finally at its fullest. Then it would fade slowly and disappear for a while, before the first slice would be visible again. 

Sometimes it’s sad to get old. Time passes invisibly and you have so many things to do that you are unaware of it walking past rather briskly, overtaking your responsiveness.

It always reminded me of an old friend whose favorite song was Moon River, which I thought was a song for social climbers. I’m crossing you in style... we’re after the same rainbow’s end… Meaning you are not there yet and probably will never get there, I would always mutter to myself when he sang it.

Oh, look at the moon, shining up there, oh mother, it looks like a lamp in the air. This little poem my tiny three-year-old son would recite to me in baby talk every time we saw the full moon floating in the sky. 

His yaya taught him that little poem. I will never forget the way he sounded, the way I would kiss him and sniff in his baby scent. Now he is almost 50.

Sometimes it’s sad to get old. Time passes invisibly and you have so many things to do that you are unaware of it walking past rather briskly, overtaking your responsiveness.

Until one day you look at yourself in the mirror and you are taken aback. Who is this old lady? How did she get that way? You have more lines under your eyes. Those were not there before. The lines around your mouth are deeper. You decide on impulse to order purple herbal hair dye that you can apply yourself to conceal your whites.

Then you remember how the poem ends:

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes, and Nod is a little head, and the wooden shoe that sailed the skies is a wee one’s trundle-bed. 

So shut your eyes while mother sings of wonderful sights that be, and you shall see the beautiful things as you rock in the misty sea,

where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, who are now almost asleep... almost permanently.