During the winter it gets dark early in Belfast. You may grudgingly accept that this is the price you pay for those heady long summer nights, but even so, it’s December now, and June is a long way off. It’s difficult to conjure the memory of warmth and blue evening skies when it’s pitch black at 5 p.m.
Tonight it is icy outside; the air is clean and clear. Despite interference from the orange streetlamps the evening sky is deep and massive; a myriad of stars can be seen in sharp focus. There are no clouds to hinder your view. On nights like this, when all these stars are visible, you look up at the sky in awe of the scale of it all: there are so many possibilities out there. The moon is a fat, blunt-ended, waxing crescent; almost gibbous. It hangs low in the sky, a colossal presence above the roof-ridges of the terraced houses, and its crater-pocks and lines are easily visible. Belfast is bathed in its pale light; the frosty pavements and rooftops glitter in its glow. It is entrancing; you want to stop the car to look at it.
But you cannot stop yet. You have just picked up your four year old daughter from the childminder, and you need to get her home and make dinner before there is a scene. She is strapped safely into her car seat in the back, snug under a pink blanket. As you drive slowly over the speed bumps along Kimberley Street the moon appears in the right side window. Your daughter catches sight of it for the first time: Look! she calls in wonder. Yes, you reply, it is beautiful. Back at the house, you lift her in your arms to gaze at the silvery crescent. After a few moments she breaks the contemplative silence, saying: The Moon – She is calling us.
A shiver runs down your spine: the child knows magick.
Audio, read by Maria McManus: Moon Child – Maria