Moonwater 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
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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.