Moonwater by Nancy Cook

by Nancy Cook

Could this be
what it’s like
on the moon

bone-cracking cold
stars sprinkled like salt
in a sky soup

 *   *   *

Nights like these
we children held hands
the old ones told tales

“Jack and Jill 
tumbled on the moon 
spilling their water pail” 

Nonna once said
then pointed to
Bappi’s bald head

“This is where 
the children fell” 
she teased, laughing

One night Auntie
came for tea 
and whispered

“the Maori say a girl
who cursed the moon
was taken from Earth

You can see her there
alone at night still
holding her water gourd”

but when I scanned 
the sky I saw only
a bald head, haloed 

*   *   *

Sometimes the moon
rose high and pale light
filled our dingy flat

and spread across
the blacktopped lot
outside the window

leaving a mirage
of shadow ghosts 
and quivering puddles

Nights like these
bone-cracking cold
the old ones telling tales

*   *   *

Many years later
a girl who loved me
told me this:

“long, long ago
lived a boy 
who was terribly sad 

but cried no tears
Moon took pity
on the unhappy boy  

floated down, down 
down to Earth 
and sat beside the boy

said “let your tears 
fall on me, I'll take them 
to the sky" The boy

began to weep
his tears the very first 
tears on Earth

Moon blessed the boy
and ever after  
Moon has carried 

that boy's tears 
on her travels 
across the sky 

Full moon nights 
we can see those tears
spilt from lunar eyes”

*   *   *

Tonight the cold
stiffens bones
moonlight shimmers

in iced puddles
We step gingerly
like astronauts

my children 
holding hands 
under stars 

sprinkled like salt
The nine-year-old 
says “scientists 

have found water 
on the moon”
I kiss their heads

I tell them tales
of long, long ago
of shadow ghosts

of children lost
and spills and tears
I tell them 

we are a people
crying for the moon
we are a people

thirsting for that 
which someday 
will survive us

Hear Nancy Cook, and other selected poets, read their poems on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

Moon-inspired poetry featuring John Peter Beck, Carmine Di Biase, Nancy Cook, and Beatriz Seelaender Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast

Submit your polished poetry for the opportunity of being published on and being interviewed on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast.

Nancy Cook

Nancy Cook runs “The Witness Project,” a program of free community writing workshops in Minneapolis designed to enable creative work by underrepresented voices, and also serves as flash fiction editor for Kallisto Gaia Press. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been awarded grants from, among others, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the National Parks Arts Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, and Integrity Arts and Culture. Some of her newest work can be found in Channel Magazine, decomp journal, and the Michigan Quarterly Review.

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