The Moon Above, 2001

The Moon Above, 2001
by Michele Herman

On the way to class, people are standing on corners on Washington Street and looking to the sky. But this communal gazing is good; this time we are looking at the full moon, the first to fall on Halloween in forty years. Daylight savings time has just ended, and it’s full dark at 6:20. The moon is magnificent: huge and textured as if it were cut from vellum and pasted in the air right above the building where my son’s friend David lives. It’s illuminating a wide ring of fog around it in a minor-key rainbow, a spectrum of grays and maroons. Everyone’s talking to everyone else again; this moon has given us permission to cross our boundaries of privacy, has made us all fellows, citizens not just of the same great city but of the same great planet. Each time I reach a corner I look up. Now it’s pasted like a big hand-made doily valentine above the Pickwick House on Bethune Street, now above my friend Nancy’s building on Bank.

And suddenly I think: what if the moon disappeared? What if we were all standing here staring and it exploded or simply went out? Things disappear from the sky all the time now. I imagine people reminiscing about the moon, trying to get used to it being gone. But then I think of the ripples, of navigators losing their way, of birds falling down dead from the cold because they’ve flown the wrong way. For some reason I think of beavers, and wonder if they would abandon their construction projects, if the tides would keep coming in or keep going out until the lands or the oceans receded. Would women stop bleeding or would they bleed all the time?


Michele Herman’s first novel, Save the Village (Regal House 2022), was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Prize. She has published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press: Just Another Jack: The Private Lives of Nursery Rhymes (2022) and Victory Boulevard (2018). Her poems have recently appeared in or are forthcoming from Carve, Ploughshares, The Sun, The Tiny Journal, Porlock and Literary Mama. She has been a finalist for the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize (2023) and the Jack Grapes Prize (2021).

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