What the Moon Is

No Telling

“The moon is not luminous in itself, but it is well fitted to take the characteristics of light after the manner of the mirror or of water or any other shining body; and it grows larger in the east and in the west like the sun and the other planets, and the reason of this is that every luminous body grows larger as it becomes more remote.” ~ from The Notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci.

DaVinci did a great deal of scribbling. I love to sift through his notebooks now and then – my fat copy is always on the bedside table – just to find a piece of truth to carry around with me. I try to imagine a mind so recursive and fearless, so mathematically poetic, dipping quill after quill into ink. Who did he imagine might read all these random thoughts?

DaVinci’s moon is the simple metaphor of teaching and parenting and grandparenting, always reflecting some brighter light. I think of the students I run into at the grocery store or the bank, those who never said much when they sat in my classes, but who gush and say the loveliest things now that classes are years over.

My Grandma Monda, who died when I was nine but has become for me the largest definition of love – there’s a moon.

Old sweethearts we immortalize and who sanctify us – there’s another.

In his mad scribbling, I suspect our man Leo couldn’t help himself. The scientist’s observation and the poet’s metaphor were clearly simultaneous for him. His mind processed like a synaptic pinball machine. What a gift.