Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poetry Friday: Moon-Drunk

Leda's Moon

A wonderful writer and friend, Leda Schubert (author of the award-winning Ballet of the Elephants and colleague of mine at Vermont College of Fine Arts) recently sent me two photos she took of the moon over her part of the world the other night. She knows I've been a little moon drunk lately. It's true. I'm bewitched. Everywhere I look, it's the moon. And to think it doesn't really shine, it just reflects light. But I don't care - being moon drunk isn't rational.

Leda's Moon with Leaves

You need a special kind of camera to capture how big the moon feels in the night sky - with regular cameras, it looks so much smaller. But I saw this poster of phases of the moon the other day, and I thought immediately that it would make a beautiful book cover. No title, no author name, just phases of the moon. Wouldn't that be wonderful? As if the author and illustrator were the moon itself.

When my husband and I got married, we lived in Mexico for a bit - not very long really - but long enough for me to see, for the first time, the moon as it appears on the Turkish flag, with what appears to be a star almost touching the lower part of the crescent:

When we saw it, I think the star was actually a planet - Venus, or maybe it was Jupiter - but all I knew then was that the moon was making me tipsy.

For Poetry Friday, I'm going to post a poem that's really a December poem, but I'm in the mood for it now. I wrote it to my husband thirty years after the night of that first crescent moon - the mood is not as giddy, but it's deeper, more substantial, even if it is melancholy. One phase of a changing moon.


December 21

Here we are on the long year's longest night,
with the light of this moon spreading - a nice surprise.
It rises in the sky, and we walk together hand
in hand - three decades fall like leaves to frost,
years lost. There's the North Star - low, slight but true.
It, you, me - mid-solstice. Right where we belong.
Brittle fig vines rest against the shed,
the bed of juno iris, too - their brown stalks half-asleep.
their bulbs deeply buried. It's the same old song:
Not long, you say. I answer, No, not long now.
But how it hurts to breathe. Even the wild mint
in the ditch is waiting. Even the coldest star.


I usually direct you to where the Poetry Friday round-up is, but I can't find a calendar of who's hosting and when. I've looked at CROSSOVER, Kelly Herold's site, but only see the calendar through August. And I've looked at Big A little a - but no luck! I'll update this once I find out. And if it's my turn (I volunteered for 11/6 at one point) then oh-oh....well, just leave your links in the comments. But I don't think it's my turn - I would have heard, no? More on this mystery later.


  1. Oh wow. You would have loved the moon in Iceland. We can talk about it at rez.
    Imagine the moon with the midnight sun. Or the moon in the middle of winter, skimming the horizon for hours. Or with the Northern Lights.

    When things are just right, it can be in the sky continuously. I should hunt up a site--one must exist-- that show the path of the moon during different months, as seen from the far north.

  2. Julie,

    I'll do the Poetry Friday Roundup at Wild Rose Reader this week. Send folks my way.

  3. Thanks, Elaine - I'll update my note above and send people to Wild Rose Reader.

  4. I admit I am a bit "moon drunk" as well. I have loved the full moon earlier this week. I read and re-read December 21, I love the winter solstice.

  5. Julie,

    I love your poem!

    I'll tell you a little story about me and poetry. I hadn't ever been a reader or a fan of adult poetry until after I got hooked on children's poetry. The more I read the more I wanted to read--and the more I learned about all different types of poems. Myra Cohn Livingston was one of my best teachers. I tried to read everything she wrote--including POEM-MAKING: WAYS TO BEGIN WRITING POETRY and THE CHILD AS POET: MYTH OR REALITY. It was especially the poetry anthologies compiled by Paul Janeczko--THE PLACE MY WORDS ARE LOOKING FOR, in particular--that introduced to some wonderful adult poets. And it was your children's books that led me to the exceptional poetry that you have written for adults.

    My story is the reason why I believe so strongly that parents/teachers should share quality children's poetry with children.

  6. I've been a bit moon drunk myself lately. I was in NY last night and the sky was so clear, and the moon so big, I felt as though I could reach out and touch it.

  7. I drove east from Denver to a little town almost on the CO/KS border on Tuesday night with the full moon lighting the prairie from above and the snow left over from the big storm the week before reflecting moonlight back from all the ditches.

  8. Sarah, I would love to see that moon over Iceland!

    Tricia, yes, exactly, the moon has been tempting us to reach out & touch.

    Mary Lee - Your comment makes me wish for an anthology of moon poems. Moon over the prairie, that sounds wonderful. So much sky to fill, no?

    Elaine, thank you for your kind words about my work. People who love poetry often take interesting paths to get to it, don't they? I've heard about what a tremendous teacher Myra Cohn Livingston was, and I think about that in my work with students at Vermont College. I have my fingers crossed that I will be able to meet more kids poets - including Paul Janeczko and Pat Lewis! - sometime soon. I would have loved to get to the NCTE convention for the tribute to Lee Bennett Hopkins on Saturday. Sigh.

  9. Julie,

    Paul Janeczko is going to be one of the five featured speakers at the Keene State College Children's Literature Festival in New Hampshire next year (October 30, 2010). If you're up in Vermont at that time, maybe you could drive down for the day.

    Dr. David White runs a wonderful festival--and Keene is a charming little college town not far from Peterborough.

  10. Julie, what a gorgeous poem. So bright and brittle, like the winter solstice night itself.

    I especially love

    three decades fall like leaves to frost,
    years lost.

    and the last two lines.