It is a man's prerogative to choose the woman whom he would take as his wife. And so with a woman it is entirely her prerogative to choose the man whom she would take as her husband.
Sometimes when the day is darkening into night and my shoes have taken me across many countries safe and sound and with many priceless dividends besides, then perhaps I am at leisure to twist my mind around a kind of shambolic coastline whose various curves were much remarked upon by some wizened elder of the Wood, the lines upon whose wild face were the branches of the trees, his bones made of wood and stone and his belly full of all the fruits of the earth, full to bursting with laughter and mirth, here a babbling stream or many scattered along the shore and to every notch in the land an truly incendiary maenad of Autumn or Winter, Summer or Spring, at times scratching her barren arms together in the wind, at others rustling with the fever of her roots, hers more days than anyone remembers, nine chains to the moon.
Most days, very few people thought they saw him, the man who dwelt in the land and sky, here and there peering through the clouds or through the boughs of trees where children might play, or beneath whose shade lovers might trade glances of happiness and pride, or, planted near one of his deep roots, a man who must bury his wife in the sod from whence she had never came unless there were nine chains to the moon.
There are stars at night. We have all seen them, sitting there and twinkling with an insistence that is quite remarkable. By early dawn in Autumn, I can confidently say that are one or two quite pretty ones when I peer outside, and I am glad for an instant or two that they light my day so from out folds of ever clear depths there one would have dropped a sparkling stone if one had hoped, and I do not deceive you when I say that my perch when making these observations of the vespers of dusk or dawn, my perch is the colour of alabaster seagull guano that might have been leftover oil paint from being dashed over the waves into the slate grey sky beyond, and beyond that - nine chains to the moon.
Men with beards should only live in the Woods. And fine ladies who wish to be in no little position of advantage when deciding upon a suitable mate should not follow them there, not unless they wish to be split like a piece of cedar firewood by the strength of the man in the Woods whose bark is on fire and whose leaves blow in the trailing hair of every age of child who ever turned their face just to see the nine chains to the moon.
When I was walking in the Wood the light was quickly fading. And I was happy because this offered my growing shoes - or roots - a taste of moonlight accentuated as the moon itself by the gloaming embers of day, of chapters of flesh and blood that formed bundles of nerves and constellations whose tenacity pushed back the night like my step upon the earth, and no more so than by day, nine chains to the moon.
A lady passes by on a bicycle. The bicycle squeaks. It sounds like many birds chirping. And that is what I think is making the sound until she rides by me, apparently and frankly unperturbed by the sorry state of her bicycle maintenance regimen. The sound delights me. Places where sounds delight me offer up a different way of looking at the world, if you can bear looking at it at all, a practice with which I am, true to say, much out of practice of late, owing to my many disappointments at resolving its unarguably titanic and celestial achievements to one's mere delight, unless we count the reckless abandon with which one might inseminate the world with it, the word made flesh and blood, the better to die on the cross of lost years or of the voices to tell their stories with, or the places to dissemble those stories from the trembling of every tenuous hour upon the Cross of Time, though there be darkness there from whence no man returns unchanged nor any woman a maid - nine chains to the moon.
The most potent god is in the beginning. In the beginning is the most potent god. So if he should leave no trace of his existence, his vigor and strength fail to take its likeness from the image of Man or of Man's world, then we can only turn to his flesh and blood for the letter of his laws and for the seminal fluid of his cocks, gods every one who enters that holy virgin night from whom no man or woman has ever returned, a far and little known shore where all men go and about whose nature nobody knows until it is spoken, flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood, by the holiest sons and daughters of this earth and these turning seasons and this sequence of stories bound up and knotted together invisible cords in the neck, in the wrists, in the legs and arms, their limbs twisting in our mind's eye and taking their vigor from our own, feeling our pain, knowing our hopes and thoughts and desires, our minds, nine chains to the moon.
When was the world young? When will it be old? Do not look here, on this hilltop or beneath this tree, for an answer. For the young man and woman who entreat its most venerable citizen, a massive tree with limbs of gold in the waning sun of an autumn's day, these people do no bear any particular characteristics that must betray their time, only that they have all of their time to themselves and bury it, in a wooden box with an iron latch, beneath the elder tree, all in the hope that their children will find it when they, too, fall in love and begin to think of giving birth to a family of their own. When their daughter shall come here and cry, no drop will be wasted by the mighty roots that know the pleasure of celestial posterity as it sprinkles itself upon this place beneath and that go where darkness dwells and life is always buried in the folds of the whole of life as it presses in, as it drains away, nine chains to the moon.
I am not in the habit of forgetting the places that I have been before and nor the stories they would tell of the nature with which or with whom every nerve and neuron has spoken since before we were first conceived, this of an intimate language that maneuvers or meanders its way forward by measures of any and every span of time and chance into the crowning and even morning glory of all the earth's countries. And though that throne become as tarnished as fallen leaves, packed by frosty snow and broken by torrents of rain and cold, only to be rent, man from wife, by the molten continental forces war's first blush upon the rose of conquest, even then there will be those who still know the treats of the darkening Wood and the Fire that burns there, too, under the moon.