Saturday, February 11, 2006

Monochrome (1997) – The Sundays

(Part Four of The Moon In The Mind’s Eye tetralogy)

Subdued trumpets transport us back to a moment when the world gathered to watch the July 20, 1969 lunar landing. With childlike fascination, Harriet Wheeler’s delicate voice fondly recalls the hazy details of a night long ago, as if watching an old 8mm film. Wheeler uses the grammatically incorrect “me and my sister” to suggest that she was young at the time (6, in fact), when the siblings surreptitiously spied upon the guests who had gathered around the sitting room telly in the early morning hours.

At the foot of the staircase, the girls watch the astronauts bound sluggishly across the surface of the moon, as if puppets suspended on wires, cavorting on a surreal stage. Guitar notes waver in elasticity, a state of weightless buoyancy. Wheeler recalls the comfort of hearing adult laughter—familiarity amidst the curious event they are witnessing—and the momentous beauty of the world celebrating in unison. Perhaps Wheeler also wistfully laments the loss of childhood innocence—the days when she could put blind faith in things she did not understand.

Wheeler takes one last pull at the heartstrings by reminding us of the awe and fanciful perspective of childhood we eventually leave behind—marveling at the dangerous romance of space exploration and the uncertainty of what it all means: “And I run to look in the sky and / I half expect to hear them asking to come down / Will they fly or will they fall?” Quite possibly, to this day, a part of her still wonders. . . .

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