Flying the moon

Crickets sang; all else was still.

''I'm flying the moon!'' you cried from the back seat. I turned halfway around and focused on your small child hand, folded as if holding a kite string. Turning back, I glanced out the open window of the car to see the moon, blue-white and full, high in the sky.

''It's following us!'' Yes, it did appear to be staying with us, although the car had followed the jag in the road. Your father drove slowly through the warm summer night and I watched the moon as it bobbed in and out among the tall elms.

''Mustn't let it get caught in the branches!'' you cautioned yourself. Like Wizard of Oz apple trees, the elms, with an insatiable appetite for kite strings , suddenly loomed menacingly. But Dorothy dust must have touched your hand, as you skillfully avoided any snags and the moon continued to float unimpeded on the other end of the cord while you safely moved one more block down your yellow brick road.

Impelled to take part, your sister slid across the back seat to your side. ''May I have a turn?'' A transfer of the kite string took place from child hand to child hand.

''Be careful!'' you implored. ''Don't let go.''

Homeward bound, we drove on, a short trip across town from your grandparents' house. The moon hovered over us, a great, benevolent spaceship, unknowingly captured.

As we neared home, another careful transfer of kite string took place, back to you. Quietly up the drive we crept, the headlights flicked off, the car doors opened and closed. You stood wide legged in the moonlight, raised your arm and opened your hand.

''There it goes!'' Four moon-drenched faces turned upward.

There was no attempt to keep it, take it inside, no discussion. And so you let it go.

But as we mounted the steps, my silent wish for you was that through the years you would remember, from time to time, to fly the moon.

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