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Looking for the Woman in the Moon

The story gets its sweetness from the detail of catastrophe


Begin: we find her

in a clean kitchen,

peeling tangerines.
A bowl filled with shed skin.

Begin: shape of e.                          How the tail

is also a trajectory, time reversing–

uncurl the nautilus
from the years it grew,

spool back
the blue galaxy.

Begin in the moon’s pocked belly.
The sea of tranquility.

A lunar courtyard with a full well, metal ladle
for dipping in drinking water.
Each mouthful shaped like the earth.

Proceed to the years she is lonely as a compass.

Quiet spinning needle. Nothing but true.

Her rabbit companion
sleeps, simple, animal.

her mother’s hands? Sometimes

her only friends
are her feet.

She returns to earth memories

like a shelled thing looping back
on its own path
before being fossilized.

She held a turtle once,

watched its small claws turn the air, mouth
a silent question.

Rice cooking on the stove, green moss after rain–
those were sunlight years.

Return: a mollusk growing smaller. How to fit now

into a past self.
Memory: closer and vaster. Return

is forbidden the same way you cannot go back
in time. The only logic,

tides: rise
and fall of earth from here,

where myth is the only life.


In how many stories does the woman tilt her head back for a forbidden drink, realizing her mistake just after

The story gets its sweetness from the detail of catastrophe

(Was the liquid thick       Did she feel gravity loosen its grip on her toes slowly or did she fly up in a rush)

The moment she begins to glow, confesses supernatural, she becomes opaque to me

I’ve flown in dreams many times and woken wondering where I learned it

A hiccup is an old, gilled gasp for air, reptile coiled at the base of our necks

My basal ganglia unraveled a long time ago

E is one of the few letters that can evoke an entire animal (swan, neck curving, as in Chang ‘E flew to the moon)

We forget so easily that transformation is ordinary

My mind tries to teach me how to move into her story

The moon has been lonely a long time     Another body kneeling in her sea scarcely wobbles her orbit

We give her a rabbit to make her seem more human

We turn our women into myths to better forget them