New Theories About (Our Obsession with) the Moon


Katherine Huang

Winner of the 2022 Greg Grummer Poetry Prize

In ancient times 
the two Moons agreed: 
one would stay in the sky,  
while the other would go  
to live on Earth 
among mortals. 

2. 朋 (péng) 
Friends (n., pl.) – two moons 
in the same orbit. 

Perhaps my ancestors 
already knew:  
our bodies are made  
from the mortal-Moon.  
Whether that is belief or truth 
is irrelevant.  

4. 肺 (fèi)  
Lungs (n., pl.) – the spices  
at the night market  
under a golden Moon. 

Of this alone I’m sure:  
when my people saw how alike  
we wrote “flesh” and “moon”,  
we shaped “flesh” into “moon” 
in our characters  
for parts of the body. 

6. 脉 (mài) 
Pulse (v.) – to telegraph 
the Moon constantly, even  
when they can’t reply. 

The mortal-Moon misses 
their friend in the sky 
and wonders if they feel  
the same. And so 
our eyes are always 
wistful when looking up. 

8. 肚 (dù)  
Belly (v.) – to crave  
a mouthful of home,  
sugared with Moonlight. 

Besides the eyes 
of the newest and oldest 
lovers, Moonlight 
is most concentrated 
in the fireflies that freckle 
the cheek of summer. 

10. 肤 (fū)  
Skin (n.) – the way  
the Moon kisses everyone  
and only you, simultaneously. 

What is a feather 
without air? What is  
love without solitude? 
What is the Sun  
without the Moon? 
(Listen to that again : ) 

12. 肝 (gān)  
Liver (n.) – the exhaustion  
when your despair  
has drunk the Moon dry. 

When we die, we choose 
a fragment of our bone 
to reunite with the Moon. 
Have you decided 
which part of you 
to immortalize yet? 

14. 胜 (shèng)  
Win (v.) – to birth a small moon  
in the bowl of your hands. 

Tonight is pregnant 
with tomorrow’s storm. 
We Moon-bodies steep 
in the haze of the Moon, 
our cigarettes glowing 
fireflies in blue smoke.

Katherine Huang

is a graduate student in genomics and computational biology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in print/online at various places – most recently Pangyrus, West Trestle Review, Sweet Tree Review, and The Shore. When not writing or sciencing, she enjoys dancing and taking naps. You can find her on Twitter @Katabolical.

Art: "I Lost Something in the Hills" by Mickey Haist Jr., Oil on canvas

Comments are closed.