Dylan’s residential home is in the dip of a valley in a semi-rural area with only thin fingers of light from nearby towns. His bedroom window looks out on open fields and sky. I imagine he loves the blackness at night and the sharp silver of the stars. Last night, as I drove Dylan back to the home after my regular Wednesday visit, a mesmerising moon glowed gold as a lantern in the sky.
‘Look Dylan, Moon’ I said.
Moon is a word Dylan has known since he was small; one of his first words in fact. It is something Dylan and I talk about; he tells me if he spots a moon on a billboard and sings ‘moon’ when we pass a Premier Inn. Dylan can sometimes be overwhelmed by moon in the sky, wanting to only sneak a look, but it is a constant which he recognises. I have written, elsewhere, about the role that moon has played in Dylan’s life. In one poem, Moonstruck, I view the full moon he was born under as prefiguring (even causing) his silence. In subsequent poems, meanwhile, I have used the image of moon as dual symbol of detachment and belonging.
Last night, as we got out of the car in the care home car park, Dylan glanced upwards. ‘What is the moon?’ I chanted at him, ‘The moon is a place.’ Dylan looked quickly at me, waiting. ‘Why does it smile?’, I continued, ‘It looks like a face’. I had Dylan’s attention now. ‘Sometimes thin, sometimes fat?’ ‘Yes’, Dylan said, anticipating my next word. ‘…the moon is like that’, I continued, nodding my head to praise Dylan for joining in.
Dylan knows these extracts from his book What is the Sun? by heart. He listens attentively and joins in with single syllable words every so often, especially if I pause long enough between lines. The book (a dialogue between a grandmother and grandson) has captured Dylan’s imagination since he was very young; the combination of rhyme, meter, illustration and grandmother seem to cast a spell on him. This book is, I suspect, the real reason why Dylan is moonstruck.
After I had settled Dylan in his room last night I got down the book and read it to him. While I chanted the poem Dylan clutched his care worker excitedly, the words at times on the tip of his tongue and sometimes in his fingers flapping in air. He listened attentively to the whole book as if waiting for his cue on the last page as the grandmother declares: ‘I love you, goodnight’.
‘Goodnight’ Dylan echoed back, kissing my cheek.
‘Good listening’ the care worker told Dylan, ‘good talking, Dylan’.
I pulled back his bedroom curtain and pointed to moon outside and then at the picture of moon in his book. ‘See Dylan’, I said, ‘moon and you and someone who loves you, like in the book’. As I said this I remembered my mum saying ‘look at the moon and think about me, thinking of you’. I left Dylan and drove home under the yellow moon, hoping he was still looking.
Images of moon from Wikipedia and http://www.pa.msu.edu