On Moons & Poetry

Lately, I’ve been thinking about realities. Right now variations of the quote, “You are not in this world. The world is inside you” come to mind. And this is where the image of the moon comes in.


By Gregory H. Revera – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11901243

Poet Natalie Diaz in conversation with Mike Albo said that one of her brothers who is addicted to meth sometimes hides from the moon because he thinks it’s hunting him. This image of a grown man running away from the beautiful moon seems unbelievable to me. But it’s true.

She later gives poets a piece of writing advice: you can start with an image. Since watching her poetry reading and interview for the PEN DIY: How To Series, the image of the moon, the image of a moon lingers in my mind. I think of her letter poem “From the Desire Field” addressed to Ada Limon, also a poet. Diaz writes, “I’ll risk losing something new instead— / like you lost your rosen moon, shook it lose.”

In the previous letter poem, Limon wrote to Diaz, “I slept again once the pink moon / moved off a little, put her pants back on, let me be.” Here, Limon’s moon is pink, and Diaz with her use of “your rosen moon” implies that we all have our own moons.

A couple of my favorite lines of poetry that include the image of the moon are, “My friend the moon rises: / she is beautiful tonight, but when is she not beautiful?” from “October” by Louise Gluck. After reading those lines, I would agree that the moon is always beautiful. But I don’t think this anymore because now I know of Diaz’s brother and his fear of the moon. His moon can become a nightmare even on days when to others that moon shines with grace or with peace or with a radiant combination of grace and peace.

Lastly, I think of Aomame’s two moons in 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (I haven’t finished reading the whole book. I might never finish reading it. It’s like a thousand pages long). She wonders if others can also see the two moons, but she doesn’t ask because she fears others won’t see that second moon and probably think her crazy.


In the reading, Diaz renames the quantum theory the quantum theory of suffering, and she talks about a time when Albert Einstein asked, “Does the moon only exist if I am looking at it?” in a conversation about the quantum theory. She asks the audience if our families’ sufferings only exists if we stare at them. Had Diaz not quantified her brother’s fear of the moon on page, I would have never stepped into his reality and seen his menacing moon.

I’m curious to know what books or lines of poetry come to mind when you think of the image of the moon?

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