The Moon Is High

by Toeti Heraty

The moon is high
Not a crescent this time.
On Gilimeno island, on the sandy beach,
it glides beyond experience
beyond the reach of my hand.

The moon is high
Pale and round, the drum
Beats, speckled silver-bright.
The casuarinas dance, the waves lash out;
The passion of life, love, their meaning
Pages that need
To be sorted.

The moon is high.
Honey from Sumbawa in Mataram!
Questions and answers are a bitterness -
An angry honey moon
Very late, a distant, intermittent hum
After the TV has been switched off, and conversation
Has died down; after the boats have foundered.

This time you have mastered the skill
Of throwing the safety rope
From island to island.
I have not yet drowned, I have not drifted
Even though I have no anchor.

A bewitching moon beckons
Melbourne and Sidney-style property on the beach
Verandas draped with bougainvillea
Tall grasses and crotons will collapse in fear
Battered by storms
Before this manuscript, this life story
Has reached its final age.

The moon is high
Clear as the tinkle of a bell
The sound of foreign cash spreads
The corals are desecrated, and the tourist's dream.

Wanderer, honey moon,
Lyrics of a song, fragments of a tune
Searched for and nearly found.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Ulrich Kratz

The final translated version of the poem is by Carole Satyamurti

Notes

The moon is high, the sky was blue, and here am I, but where are you?  (Popular song, 1930s)

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