Once upon a time, there was a fish that fell in love with the moon. While other fish swam in water warmed by the sun, our fish waited for the cool moonshine and the rise of his beloved moon.
He loved the moon and everything about her. He loved her delicately laced surface, the white light she gave off, her changeable waxing and waning.
One night our fish decided to seek out his love. He had swum alluring dances and framed her with blown bubbles, but she did not react. He swam up to the surface of the lake, but she was always higher up, and would not come down no matter how hard he pleaded. He resolved to ask the smartest, wisest animal he knew how he could meet the moon and win her heart.
“Hello, wise old turtle,” he began, and told the wrinkly wise turtle his aim.
The turtle was so wise he knew that you cannot speak sense to love, so he merely told the fish that the moon was so far up that he would need legs and lungs and great resolve to leave the lake and seek her out. The fish immediately had a suit with legs and lungs woven for him by the waterspiders and set out to leave the lake and meet his moon.
Now, as you know, land is not a place for fish. They have no experience with it and flop about in an ungainly way. The fish persevered past these initial difficulties, learned to control his new legs and began his search. He was on a lake shore, with the sweetly lapping waves beside him, and he knew not what to do.
“Oh wise turtle,” began the fish, and asked where he could find the moon to plead his love.
“The moon is up,” said the turtle, “So you must go up.” The turtle pointed towards the path that sloped up away from the lake.
The fish set off and soon the path led into the woods. He had never been in the woods and worried about the branches that obscured his view, that hid the face of his love. He met a friendly squirrel along the path and relayed his tale of fishy lunar love. The squirrel considered this carefully while chewing on a nut, gnawing and pushing bits into his mouth.
“What you want to do,” said the squirrel through bulging cheeks, “is climb a tree. Up at the tippy tops of a tree, where the branches are tiny tendrils, that’s the closest you can get to the moon. Make your plea from there.” The squirrel offered to carry the fish, “hang on to my back!” and up the tree they traveled.
Up into the thinnest highest branches, where they swayed with any movement or the softest breeze, the fish hanging on a squirrel’s back. The fish sang out his heart, his longing, and his hopes, but the moon just sat in the sky, aloof. Even with the squirrel lifting him up as high as possible, the fish couldn’t touch the moon, and they dropped down to the forest floor in deep despair.
“I’m so sorry I couldn’t help you! I’ll see if I can find a taller squirrel to lift you higher”, said the friendly squirrel, and then he bounded off after a nut and forgot completely about the fish. Squirrels live in the now, we cannot expect them to remember what they said.
The fish did some deep breathing exercises with his new lungs and calmed down. Follow the path. Go up. He set off and soon the path led to a mountain. The mountain was the tallest thing the fish had ever seen, and could barely hold it in his little fish brain. Obviously, from the top of the mountain he could look the moon in her face and tell her of his love and how it drove him to find her.
The fish climbed the mountain, a difficult task when you have never prepared for it, doubly hard if you’re a fish. He struggled and wriggled and writhed his way up, and eventually made it to the top of the mountain. On the peakiest pinnacle he proclaimed a poem, profound and full of pathos.
The moon was unmoved.
What now? There were no higher places to go. A shadow dropped over the fish’s hopes, dreams, and face. The shadow belonged to a raven who had heard the fish’s romantic recitation. It was a heart-squeezing song to hear, and the raven thought of his one true love, a raven he had never had the heart to offer a bit of shiny trash. The lost are always the most likely to offer help to the wandering, and the raven offered to fly the fish as high as his jet black wings could carry.
“If you cannot reach your moon from there, surely she can hear you and will come lower!”
The fish agreed to the plan, and flopped into the raven’s strong rough claws. They flew very, very high.
When the raven was gasping in very high thin air, flapping frantically, the fish realized they could not rise higher. The quest was over, this ridiculous fancy that a fish could woo the moon collapsed like a popping bubble on the lake surface. The fish closed his eyes and hung his head, sobbing little fish tears of despair.
“I cannot go higher and I cannot stay here!”, choked the raven.
The fish was out of ideas and out of hope when he opened his eyes. He was looking straight down and could see the craggy mountain peak the raven had lifted him from. He could see down the perilous path he had climbed up the mountain side, and he could make out the squirrel’s trees. There was the road between the trees down to the edge of the lake where the turtle had told him to go up and in the center of the lake, sweetly shining, was the beautiful moon.
“Let me go! Drop me”, the fish shouted into the soft feathers of the raven’s belly, “drop me now with my thanks.”
The tired raven let go and the fish began falling back to the earth. He pushed out his fins as far as they would go and steered himself the way he had seen the raven do it. Down, down, down he plummeted and all the way aiming towards the embrace of his lunar love. The air screamed by and he wriggled out of the legs and lungs the waterspiders had made him.
With a great splash the fish fell right into the center of the lake. Back in the cool sweet waters of his home lake, the fish swam in joyful circles, blowing great garlands of bubbles. He knew now that from the viewpoint of his lunar love, they were always together. His songs and poems had done the trick, and the moon had come down for him.
You and I might smile at the fish’s fantasy. But he knows he is the fish who sung down the moon, and what are you?
What are you?