Dorianne Laux reads
Facts About the Moon
You need Flash to listen to this track.
The moon is backing away from us an inch and a half each year. That means if you’re like me and were born around fifty years ago the moon was a full six feet closer to the earth. What’s a person supposed to do? I feel the gray cloud of consternation travel across my face. I begin thinking about the moon-lit past, how if you go back far enough you can imagine the breathtaking hugeness of the moon, prehistoric solar eclipses when the moon covered the sun so completely there was no corona, only a darkness we had no word for. And future eclipses will look like this: the moon a small black pupil in the eye of the sun. But these are bald facts. What bothers me most is that someday the moon will spiral right out of orbit and all land-based life will die. The moon keeps the oceans from swallowing the shores, keeps the electromagnetic fields in check at the polar ends of the earth. And please don’t tell me what I already know, that it won’t happen for a long time. I don’t care. I’m afraid of what will happen to the moon. Forget us. We don’t deserve the moon. Maybe we once did but not now after all we’ve done. These nights I harbor a secret pity for the moon, rolling around alone in space without her milky planet, her only love, a mother who’s lost a child, a bad child, a greedy child or maybe a grown boy who’s murdered and raped, a mother can’t help it, she loves that boy anyway, and in spite of herself she misses him, and if you sit beside her on the padded hospital bench outside the door to his room you can’t not take her hand, listen to her while she weeps, telling you how sweet he was, how blue his eyes, and you know she’s only romanticizing, that she’s conveniently forgotten the bruises and booze, the stolen car, the day he ripped the phones from the walls, and you want to slap her back to sanity, remind her of the truth: he was a leech, a fuckup, a little shit, and you almost do until she lifts her pale puffy face, her eyes two craters, and then you can’t help it either, you know love when you see it, you can feel its lunar strength, its brutal pull.