Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2013 - Page 14


by Joel Hans


The astronomers say the moon’s a-floating away, that its whiteness will, in twenty-nine days, become little more than the hum of the pole star. She wants to ask what’s going to happen to her lover of the low tide, ocean haunt of her drowned memory, the figure at the end of the barnacled pier, the one with the seaweed mask, the one she kisses nightly. Instead she asks why the moon would leave them, and they say, Maybe it’s tired of making bright our miseries. They say, You’re more than welcome to look for yourself, holding out their telescopes. She looks down into the water, sees her lover's lips beneath the surface, waves the astronomers goodnight, waits for the moon to peel the ocean back.


Her lover comes creeping from the tide, purses its lips, asking for the nightly kiss. She says, You must have heard about the moon by now. Her lover rolls like a seal onto its belly so that it might look out across the horizon. She tells her lover the depth of her loneliness, how these low-tide meetings are barely enough, but her lover doesn’t respond, doesn’t even seem to acknowledge her words, as though they are still separated by miles of seawater.


While she waits for low tide, she asks what will happen to the ocean if the moon decides to leave. The astronomers finger their beards and shrug, say they aren’t oceanographers. But they do chuckle, pointing to the sky, saying, When the moon is gone, think about the views we’ll have.


At night, the moon already looks less luminescent. But the tides are still there, the morning’s high and the late evening’s low. After the astronomers have left, she spreads her body across the pier, chest over the water, hair draped, salt-stained silver. She searches the sand for conch shells, holds them up to her lips and casts prayers into their infinite spirals, casts them out to sea.


She reaches into the water around her lover’s body, wraps her fingers around bundles of seaweed, brings them up to her face, covers her eyes. She swallows saltwater, chokes, and is sick almost immediately, clouding the water beneath. Her lover skirts away and points toward the moon, and then the water, as though to agree with the astronomers—that light allows these meetings.

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