In her monthly column, The Moon in Full, Nina MacLaughlin illuminates humanity’s long-standing lunar fascination. Each installment is published in advance of the full moon.
Strange Flower (Little Sister of the Poor), by Odilon Redon, 1880
1. How did you hear about planet Earth?
2. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being abysmal, 5 being transcendent, please rate your experience with planet Earth:
1 2 3 4 5
3. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being frozen numb, 10 being the worst pain possible before exploding into a trillion meteoric fragments, how much pain are you in right now?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
4. In general, do you wish you had more freedom?
Please circle one: Yes No
5. In general, are you glad to be tethered by gravity to planet Earth?
6. If you were to describe the smell on your surface, you would use the word(s) (please circle all that apply):
Dust char on heater when heat is first turned on
Lily of the valley
None of the above
7. Of the following moons, who do you like the most?
8. You identify as (please circle one):
Female Male Other
9. Do you identify as a god/dess?
10. Which of the following is your favorite song about the moon? Please circle one:
“The Moon,” by Cat Power
“Song about the Moon,” by Paul Simon
“Blue Moon,” by Billie Holiday
“Blue Chicago Moon,” by Songs: Ohia
“Blue Moon of Kentucky,” by Elvis Presley
“Pink Moon,” by Nick Drake
“Harvest Moon,” by Neil Young
“Shining Moon,” by Lightnin’ Hopkins
“Bad Moon Rising,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“The Killing Moon,” by Echo & the Bunnymen
“Moonshadow,” by Cat Stevens
“Moon Dreams,” by Miles Davis
“Moon Palace,” by Luna
“Moon at the Window,” by Joni Mitchell
“Sisters of the Moon,” by Fleetwood Mac
“Drunk on the Moon,” by Tom Waits
“Man on the Moon,” by R.E.M.
“My Moon My Man,” by Feist
“The Moon Is the Number 18,” by Silver Jews
“What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” by Billie Holiday
“Mountains of the Moon,” by the Grateful Dead
“Standing by the Moon,” by the Grateful Dead
“Picasso Moon,” by the Grateful Dead
“Space Oddity,” by David Bowie
11. In general, do you feel like you’re waiting?
12. Do you want to be touched?
Please circle one: Always Mostly Now and then Rarely Never at all Prefer not to say
13. Do you welcome the inevitable arrival of more human beings?
14. Which is your favorite phase?
Please circle one:
15. Do you dream?
(If yes, please fill out question 16)
16. Do you dream about:
The horror of arrival?
Attraction and its many forms?
Swimming in the lava fields before they were solidified?
Stairways, elevators, ladders, other means of ascent/descent?
Icarus, his feathers, his avoidable death, an alternative night flight in which you would’ve seen him soar, would’ve seen him safely to new land?
Tidal waves, rogue waves, walls of water, flood, rhythm, swell, retreat?
17. In general, do you have an effect on human mood and/or disposition and/or sanity?
Please circle one: Yes
18. In general, do you have an effect on the human menstrual cycle?
19. Do you believe in werewolves?
20. Is the light you appear to shed made of ghosts?
21. When a human being goes outside for a night walk battered by various woes, big-picture woes (such as: species doom, environmental collapse, plague, racial and socioeconomic inequality, political upheaval, so much death) as well as individual woes (such as: a cracked tooth, a leaking shower, late rent, broken slats on the rope bridge that spans the chasm between any two people, so much fear, so much death), and the human being rounds a corner down Ash Street toward the river and finally remembers to look up, and sees you through the branches of a magnolia tree, bare at this wintry moment in the year, and the human being gasps and thinks in her puny human-being brain, “There you are,” where you is you, the moon, and the human being stops on the sidewalk to keep looking up at you for a longer amount of time than seems normal, and then scurries on in the mittens her mother made and a scarf pulled halfway up her face, crossing Memorial Drive lined with all those sycamores, and the human being arrives at the path by the river and sees you reflected on the black surface of the water, sees you in an elongated cone of light wobbling on the black surface of the water, and the human being realizes that you, this big pearl in the sky, just up there glowing and hanging in space and dropping your light down onto the black surface of the water, down onto this human being’s own cheeks and shoulders and forehead, are at the same time moving faster than the human being can believe, full-throttling through space, faster than should be possible for such a massive form to move, reminding her that even though she’s standing still, as still as she knows how to stand, the planet she’s standing on, planet Earth, is also hurtling along at some ridiculous pace, and even though she might think she’s standing still, inside her blood is zipping through her veins and her heart buh-bumps, and her guts are releasing acids and doing their churns to digest her dinner—the chicken soup she’d made with thigh meat and drummies—and as her blood zips and heart thumps, planet Earth and the moon are swinging through space together, nothing is still, nothing is silent, and this tiny human being, who stands near a mouse rustling in the brush on the bank, near a night heron crouched by the water, near the road and the sycamores bare of leaves, near the river always moving, this human being whose toes are getting cold, whose mind has grown over-familiar to itself, who feels, in this moment, everything beating at the same brittle pulse (her blood, the river, you, the moon) thinks now, with relief and glee, “Would you look at that moon!” and the human being notices her woes have been dissolved, that your size and quiet silver light, your mighty benevolence, the simple fact of you, have shifted her perspective, because how can those woes—so small, so amazingly temporary—matter at all against the scale and silence and span of time she considers when she sees you there, glowing, and it is not indifference on your part but a numinous impassivity that allows her to feel this dissolving, because how can a human being feel woe when there’s a vast pearl to look at and someday we’ll all die, and what we’re asking is: Do you mean it when you do that? When you dissolve our woes? Is it intentional? Are you aware of this, your own power and/or magic?
Please circle one: Yes No It does not matter
22. Do you believe some things should remain a mystery?
Please circle one: Yes No
23. Is there anything else you feel we should know?
24. Please. We’re right here, listening. All we’re doing is looking for answers. Is there anything else you feel we should know?
Thank you for your time.
Nina MacLaughlin is a writer in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her most recent book is Summer Solstice. Her previous columns for the Daily are Winter Solstice, Sky Gazing, Summer Solstice, Senses of Dawn, and Novemberance.
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