I trod down the deteriorating stone path, my eyes downcast. Carefully dodging the gravestones with light steps, I uttered an apology to the buried souls I was disturbing. Grass wormed its way through the cracks of the path, and I could see it waving in the crisp fall breeze, illuminated by the radiant harvest moon. My heart was a brutal opponent in a wrestling match, pounding against my chest loudly as I mentally prepared myself for the Ritual. My eyes took in Edgar Allan Poe’s familiar final resting place as I approached it. I knelt onto the partially frozen earth, brushing a few stray brown, crumbly leaves out of the way. Reaching into my woolen overcoat, my gloved fingers closed upon the coarse stem of a rose. I pulled it out and laid it before the grave: a peace offering, a white flag, a truce. I meant him no harm now. Well, I thought, I could do him no harm now that he was gone. But oh, had I been furious! After John Allan had died, my mother confessed to me that I was his illegitimate son. I could remember the conversation down to the last detail: my mother’s forehead crowded with a disarray of unusual wrinkles that overwhelmed her delicate features, my surprise that turned to fiery rage, and, finally, my jealousy at discovering that there was someone who had grown up with having John Allan as a father- Edgar Allan Poe. The sky suddenly darkened, jolting me out of my reverie. I scrutinized the inky sky; a cloud obscured the moon. A shiver went through me, leaving my fingers tingling. I could almost feel his presence in the air around me. I tilted my head upward. “What was my father like?” I whispered to the stars, hoping he heard. “What was he like?” I lowered my head and stared at the curly lettering on the grave. “Why didn’t he love me?” I choked out before I bit my lip and let the hot, salty tears cascade down my cheeks. I traced the grooves in Edgar’s grave. A piece of stone chipped off, and I slid it into my pocket. My hand brushed against the contour of something cylindrical and smooth. I retrieved it out of my overcoat and tugged the cork out of the liquor bottle. I set two chalices on the ground, watchful that the earth wouldn’t knock them over, and filled each one halfway with liquor. I imagined that if Edgar were here we would lift our glasses, toasting to our father. So I toasted mine, and could almost hear the clink. I wished that if Edgar were here he would regale me with stories about my father while I listened, enraptured. So I listened, and could almost hear him speak. I wanted John Allen to look down from heaven with pride on his two sons celebrating. So I looked up at him, and could almost see his beaming face. I stayed there for a while, yearning for the reality of my father. When I could sense the temperature rising, see the moonlight waning, and hear the hum of life returning, I brushed off my black overcoat and walked out of the graveyard, still holding my glass. All that was left of the celebration was a dewy rose and a glass of liquor Edgar Allan Poe never got the chance to drink.
Moonshine in the Moonlight
February 5, 2010