Tonight the moon lies on its back:
a thin, white spine. I count each vertebra
of the woman next to me in bed,
map her lumbar curvature:
each bone : a moon : a linear diagram
down her back. In this parable
in which I am an astronomer
the night sky is a body capable of holding
what may not survive our atmosphere.
Oh god of well-made darkness,
let us not forget how prayers have been cruel,
how the moon has been misconstrued
for a knife glinting in the dark.
One Theory of Loss
accounts for horses on the moon. Droves
of lunar shires gallop across the dusty surface:
equine, opaline, sibylline. Two-thousand pounds
weightless, theoretical without atmosphere.
The mane at the crest of each horse’s neck
reveals how we’re taught to hold tightly
to each others’ bodies. We don’t know
how we could ever let go. To understand
this theory of loss, we must train ourselves
to think like astrophysicists, to recognize
the greatest disproved improbability here:
this species learned to breathe without air.
Girls drop moon rocks
down the aisle we walk.
We call them basalt girls,
gabbro girls, norite girls.
Our parents here no more
than the man on the moon.
Rings around our fingers,
Jupiter’s gossamer bands.
We wear pale blue spacesuits,
like two robin’s eggs speckled
with lunar dust. No one can hear
our vows when we speak them.