Story About the Moon

Paul-Victor Winters

It was no lunar eclipse;
the moon had simply given up,
gone on strike, skipped town
with the proverbial cow. Dusk
grew to mean troubleNighttime,
worry.  Children in our town adjusted,
which scared us, though some boys
cried out in their sleep.  We understood them
and it pleased their mothers, who’d grown tired
and nervous.  The stars, too, worked harder for us,
but it was not enough light to comfort.
We mourned.  Poets and atheists blamed themselves.
Fights broke out.  The senseless made sense
and wanderers settled down in vacant buildings.
Folks in the homes shriveled up into fetal position.
Months went by.  Women stopped bleeding
and some were inconsolable; they began to age
more quickly than we’d thought possible.
Every day, at sundown, a young woman
would drown herself in the reservoir.
The barber threw away his blades.
Shop clerks threw their arms in the air
and wailed.  Night watchmen went blind.
People stayed inside.  Television newscasters
seemed different, heart-broken, maybe.
The clergy all moved to the city and left
the doors to their rectories wide-open,
soap still wet in the soap dishes; acolytes
hid in the churches until their older brothers
found them and made threats. The libidinous
abstained and some enjoyed it.  On Sundays,
everyone at the Doughnut Shoppe would holler
and fight until the tired police came;  the police
lost their taste for organization.  Science
teachers offered no explanations, read poems
in class instead; students slashes their tires.
Many beat themselves and screamed
just loudly enough that a neighbor might hear,
might make a phone call;
they were taken away.  The mechanic began to think
his tools felt strangely like his daughter’s
soft, pale hands and lost his job. Dogs went mad
with nothing to howl at. There were those who tried
to remain positive, praising God
for the sunlight, chanting in circles
in the large parking lot between the strip mall
and the grocery store. Most of us tried to pray
alone at home, but it was more difficult
than it had ever been.  We made it to the middle
of November, but it looked like we wouldn’t
make it much further.  School teachers flailed
about in the schoolyards, overdosing;
Young men gassed themselves in their fathers’ garages.
We told our younger children to say their prayers
every night.  This is how it was; it went on
like this.  Children kept growing older.