The Name of the Moon

by Sarah Ann Watts

The angel sings in the tree. I know she is an angel though others call her a bird. I have seen the shadow of her wings beating against the sky and heard her voice calling in the dawn. Sometimes I think she is as lonely as I am. She calls for her lover every morning although he does not come. I think I know why she is unhappy. If she is my angel, she will not leave me. I keep her here; she cannot fly away. She is a prisoner like me.

Some days I dream that I will let her go — tell her she is free — but I lack the courage because then I would be alone. I pray that she will forgive me.

I have been here long enough to lose count of the days. The sun rises, and I watch the sky. When the clouds open, I stand under the grate where the light falls and cup my hands to catch the water. Bitter raindrops fall upon my tongue. It is the only touch I know. At night I can see the stars and hear the whispering of the trees. When the moon rises I watch her face. I see her shielded behind bars as I am. They have caught her in a cage, and yet she is free to wander the skies. Sometimes she smiles at me, sharing the secret, and sometimes her face is blank.

Her light is cold but it comforts me. When I am calm I write her name in the dust, and when I am angry I scuff it out with my bare feet. It is not easy to write when my hands are bound. They do not want me to hurt myself. The name of the moon is the name for an angel. There are angels everywhere — if you know where to look.

They bring me food and water twice a day. They shove it though an iron grille, and I take it. They will not touch me, and I am happy that now they leave me alone. I suppose I should be grateful for their charity. Strange to say I am not ready to die though my world has dwindled to this cell beneath the ground, and I have no real hope that they will ever let me out.

I know the price of my freedom. I must tell them what they want to hear: that angels do not talk to me. They are afraid of my voices, and they say they keep me here for my own protection. They tell me they love me. All they want is my recantation: There are no angels and there never were. I will not do it. The words are easy to say but how can I tell them something that is not true?

One day they will open the door and let my angel in.

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