Long into the Night

Nin sat on the beach and looked out over the bay and contemplated his life. He stared into the water, as if he expected to see some vision or portent in the depths. The light from the moon, reflected on the waves, danced before him and stung his swollen eyes.

He barely perceived the tiny puff of wind as a bluebird alighted on the rock beside him.

“Hello, old friend, I see you are not well.”

“No,” replied Nin. “Everywhere I look, all I see is misery.”

“Hmm.” The bluebird considered how best to help his rabbit friend. “Look up,” he said.

And Nin looked up. It was a calm night. A full moon, pale and low, hung over the bay and the forest beyond. Thin clouds bled moonlight. “Do you see any misery up there?” asked the bluebird.

Nin shook his head. “No,” he said, “I don’t.”

The bluebird fluttered down beside the rabbit. “Would you like to compose poetry with me? The work will do you good.” Waves lapped gently at their feet.

“I’ve never composed before.”

“No time better,” said the bluebird. “Here is what we will do, I will sing a short stanza, then you will compose a reply, and so on. We shall call it renga, but will not worry about the technicalities. The topic will be the moon, tonight.”

Nin perked up slightly. “Okay.”

The bluebird began:

Lonesome moon
has two visitors,
both are still

And Nin replied sorrowfully:

Oh moon! You are so beautiful
but so cold

“Good!” the bluebird cried. “How about this?” and he sang:

always watching,
no judgment

To which Nin replied:

My reflection,
and the moon through clouds

The bluebird nodded approvingly. He ruffled his feathers and pecked at his feet and listened to the gentle lapping of the bay at night.

The sea
and I, both
drawn to the moon

Nin thought for a moment before singing:

There is the moon, there are the waves
nothing else exists

Finally, the bluebird sang:

The moon in the sky
the moon on the water
the moon and my corpse

And Nin said:

Whether laughing or crying
the moon remains above me

“My friend, you are a natural.”

Nin smiled. He felt as if some burden had been lifted from him. He laughed, a pure laugh like a child’s laugh. And together he and the bluebird sang long into the night.