When You Were Young
When you were young, in the days before you forgot how to dream, the stars were your guardians and the moon was your friend. Each night, once you were safely tucked into your warm bed, thousands of white and frosted stars would gather to dance upon your windowpane. They called out your name in a lilting voice as pale and shimmering as the moon-glow. But you slept soundly, and never woke; and while you slept, the stars knit you a blanket from lily petals and a nightcap from lily stems, their cold and nimble hands (did you know that stars have hands?) fluttering about without a sound. Then, their work done, they laid the blanket over your bed and set the nightcap atop your head, and you were cloaked in a glory of white.
Who can describe what the stars did then? It is too strange, too marvelous to tell how their voices came together in one, great, quivering nova of sound—more beautiful than David’s harp or the pauper’s lute—and sang you lullabies about distant lands and the moon. Oh! in these night-songs the stars brought you to the sands of Arabia and the mountains of Tibet; dressed you in silks and made you to dine with kings. They saw the longing for adventure that was in your heart—the courage, too—and christened you a voyager on their travels to the sublime. You went, I think, with a willing spirit, even as you slept.
Then, in those days, dawn would show her rosy face and interrupt the darkness of your room. The stars, like shy night-visitors, withdrew from your bedside and disappeared, in quiet flickers, out the window whence they came. Soon you began to stir, yawning and stretching your arms above your head. In the moment before your senses returned, before you opened your eyes, you thought dreamily that the room smelled a little of lilies; you heard a peculiar song hanging, just barely, in the air. You wanted to keep these discoveries, to stay with them and find out what they meant, but the voice of your mother broke through the door, calling you to get ready for school. You ate your breakfast and dressed, beginning to think of other things; and you would have forgotten it all, but that, as you were brushing your hair before the mirror, a thin green stem tumbled down and landed on your chest. Your reflection glittered in the mirror, your face as pale as the moon.