Clamshell Moons

Written By: Faith Leslie

I have two clamshell moons hanging above my bed. Two remnants of sky that remind me every time I look at them that I am part of it, part of this island, this life, this alabaster-lit, soul-swelling universe. One is from Cooper’s Beach from a long, sunful walk with my father last May, a walk that began to hint to me that my father, who came to see me from the rolling hills and cornfields of Wisconsin, my father, whom I thought had never even wanted me, might actually feel the opposite. I allowed myself to feel an emotion that day that was the reason I had built so many walls around myself: hope. The other is from the bay at the end of Sebonac Inlet Road where graduate school friends and I watched the sun set last Saturday slowly over the North Fork, the rays deepening that one massive cloud’s pink hue even after the sun had disappeared and the moon had started to rise. Gratitude, frothy and seasoned, bloomed in my stomach that night, so much gratitude I felt like I was rising up and up until I landed right there on that glowing cloud, pinking by the second. Above my bed, both moons are in the phase a week or so after the full moon, the C-shaped phase when the right side of the sphere disappears into the blue black of the night, leaving the left side to shine until darkness catches up. I hung the moons with fishing line, wrapping it around the thickest part of each moon’s curve, tying knots, and then tracing the line up and tying the other end around thumbtacks that I eased into my ceiling. They hang, one under the other, two capital letters, two beginnings. When I found the first clamshell moon, my father was talking about how he makes connections with his colleagues. How he looks them in the eye, touches their arms, makes contact physically so that they can make contact with him emotionally. “You know, I’m, like, always the guy everyone tells their secrets to. You get it too, right?” I nodded. “I think it’s our faces, I think we have some weird gene that makes us smile more than the average human. Makes us look…open and ready to hear things.” He hit my arm lightly, grinning. A teasing father tap that most have experienced their entire lives. I was just getting to know what they were like. I wanted more. I told him I knew so many secrets from so many people I wondered how I kept them from getting all jumbled up in my brain. “Tell me one,” he said. “No,” I said, “they’re secrets. I will never tell.” He hit my arm again. “That’s my girl.” I smiled so hard I glowed. When I found the second clamshell moon, my friends had just arrived at the bay beach, their sunlit figures growing as they walked towards me. I exclaimed at the treasure I had just found. They smiled at me like I was a child. I didn’t mind. We sat in the rocky sand so our toes skimmed the small waves and we listened. We listened to the rhythm of the salty sea, to the toppling of the rocks over each other as the sea pulled itself back. We listened to the birds not really singing the song of dusk, but humming it. We listened to the extravagant beauty of this moment, to the wonder of this place, to the infinite and ever-admirable grace of the earth. “Have you ever felt grateful every, single day?” I asked the friend to my right. He said he felt it sometimes. “Ever since I moved here,” I said, “I have felt a rush of gratitude every, single day. Every day.” I felt that familiar rush fill me up, lift my cheeks, loosen my shoulders. Apparently, this was where I was supposed to be, going to graduate school for writing, living five minutes from the beach, meeting incredible friends that challenged me, inspired me, dared me to go deeper. My clamshell moons expand the sky so it overflows into the corner of my bedroom, into the pillows on my bed, into my dreams that, like roses, close fuller and fuller each night. And when sunlight hits these hanging, curved moons the next morning, it makes moonshadows on my wall. Two moonshadows that hang, remnants of what was, remnants of what will be.