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.
VINTERNATT BY NIKOLAI ASTRUP, LICENSED UNDER CC BY SA 4.0.
What is the moon?
The moon is a natural satellite, and it reflects the light of the sun. The moon is 4.5 billion years old. The moon is, on average, 240,000 miles away from this Earth. The moon is the fifth largest of the 210 that swing around the planets in this solar system, and the second densest, after Jupiter’s moon Io. The moon is made of iron and nickel at its heavy metal core; lighter crystals of solidified lava, like olivine and pyroxene, make up its mantle; and the lunar soil that makes up the surface crust is an even lighter mix of minerals and metals known as regolith, including anorthositic plagioclase feldspar, dusty and granular. Leave a footprint in it. The moon would be 73.5 million metric tons if it were placed on a bathroom scale on this earth. The moon is whisking at an average orbit velocity of almost 2,300 miles per hour. The moon is 6,800 miles around at its equator, and would that there were a hole big enough, about 50 moons could fit inside this Earth. The moon is the only non-Earth place human feet have stepped, and it has felt the weight of 12 bodies on its surface. O geometry of light.
The moon is Sin, the Mesopotamian god who rode a winged bull and had a beard of lapis lazuli. The moon is Khonsu, whose name means “traveler” in ancient Egyptian, a young man-god who tick-tocked the passage of time and aided with healing and conception. The moon is Chandra, the Hindu god, who had twenty-seven wives, rode a three-wheeled chariot pulled by white horses, and was a guardian of the directions; otherwise known as Soma, the moon is where the nectar of the gods is stored. Drink up. The moon is Chang’e, the Chinese goddess with a white rabbit who is said to have stolen the elixir of immortality from her husband. The moon is Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, of chastity, of wildness, and her Roman sister, Diana, who watched over the crossroads, and Selene, too, who fucked the ever-sleeping Endymion in a cave every night and bore fifty daughters by him; what a beauty he was, irresistible. The moon is Coyolxauhqui, the Aztec older sister to four hundred brothers, who tried to murder her mother. The moon is Igaluk in Inuit myth, a moon god part of another complicated brother-sister story. The moon is Pah, is Wadd, is Losna, is Kalfu, is Gleti, is Máni, is Artume, is Abuk, is Baal-hamon, is Myeongwol, is Tsukuyomi, is Bulan, is Bahloo, is Lona, is Luna. O immortality.
The moon is maestro of the tides. The moon is the ocean’s foam riding its way to shore, every bubble a tiny temporary moon, all the froth on all the seas, the bubbles in a bottle of champagne, the lather in the shower rinsed off the skin. The moon is the sound inside a conch shell, the oceanic surging echo of blood blasting through our veins. The moon is a swinging lighthouse beam. The moon is an underwater sort of song. The moon is reflected across the broadest back of the ocean and in the humblest, oil-slicked gas-station puddle, an empty coffee cup rolling toward the curb. The moon is solemn as a glacier. The moon is attached to the umbilical cord of gravity, same as we are. O great gulping void.
The moon is the lantern in the abdomen of an insect who wants to fuck. The moon is a hill of sheep. The moon is a rock roughed by a surface of barnacles. The moon is the filed tusk of a night mastodon. The moon is a furred spider-egg sac spilling spider stars. The moon is the haunch of a white cow, the haunch of a kneeling horse. The moon is the pouch of a pelican beak flashing full of silver fish. The moon is a crumb of pollen carried on the back leg of a bee. The moon is the berries on a tangle of mistletoe. The moon is hydrangean. The moon is volcanic, earthquaking, velvet-smooth white ash. The moon is aware of the original chaos and the subsequent chaos. The moon is honey, is lemon, is marmalade, is lavender. The moon is garnet, dried blood stained in the crotch of your underwear. The moon is a magnet. The moon is a stepping-stone. The moon is a revolution. The moon is the yolk of an egg in an eggshell. The moon is a tooth whose roots tangle through the great jaw of space. The moon is camouflaging behind the clouds. The moon is never trespassing. O darkness.
The moon is ruins found underneath the streets of an ancient city. The moon is the face that launched a thousand ships. The moon is a smoke signal, a ping-pong ball, the coin at the bottom of the well. The moon is roofless, stairless, undomed, unsteepled, unchimneyed. The moon is a licked finger around a thin rim of glass. The moon is moon suits, Moon Unit. The moon is the ring left by a glass of ice water on a low wooden table. The moon is the arthritic bulge on the knucklebone. The moon is the whites of the eyes rolled back in the head in ecstatic absence. The moon is pus rising from a hot deep wound. The moon is radiant putrefaction. The moon is the astigmatic flare. The moon is touching the abyss at all times, same as we are. O temple of nothingness.
The moon is a globe of semen on the belly. The moon is a pearl of vulval emulsion. The moon is a raw skull crowning from the dark cunt of the universe. The moon is the ball in the socket of your hip bone. The moon is our skeleton and shows us nightly the bones we’ll be. The moon is the primitive shadow and the primitive mirror; see yourself, see ourselves, see ourselves reflected and obscured. The moon is the month map, the blood march, the menstrual lamp. The moon is silent, is silence, is the inexplicable, the unsayable: say it.
O moon. O white soil. O nightwalk and night choir. O silver silence. O enveloping chthonic glow. O insomnia. O chalk tongue. O hunter. O sturgeon. O wolf. O dream womb. O worm. O ensoiled feast we’ll be. O spread-open aperture. O tongued by light. O blood whisper. O secrets. O wordlessness. O laughter and echo of laughter. O salt water, blood, bone. O ash, dust, light. O great longing to know. O never knowing. O out and out. O out and out the airless swirl of stars. O out and out the intimate and ultraliving paradise of fire. O out and out the empty spiraling dark. O night-light. O beauty. O movement. O moon.
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.
Last / Next Article