I won’t name names, but once I attended a writing conference in the company of a former poet laureate. One night, after all of the seminars and readings were finished, I found myself on a shuttle bus that was ferrying attendees back to their lodgings. Seated behind the former laureate, I overheard his seatmate, a famous poet herself, whisper into his ear about the beauty of the crescent moon overhead.
At which point the former laureate drunkenly admonished her, “For god’s sake, just don’t write a poem about it.”
I was shocked — and then charmed — by his surprisingly unsentimental response to the most sentimental of objects, perhaps in the entire cosmos.
With countless deities ascribed to it, myths written about it, metaphors derived from it, and love songs sung to it, we can perhaps agree that all we don’t need is one more romanticized stanza about the moon.
So instead let’s look at another, far more prosaic, type of satellite — a legion of satellites, in fact — the ones that have sprung from the scientific imagination and now clutter the space above our heads.
Manmade satellites bounce cellphone signals between the earth and sky, thus enabling our ability to communicate. They are like floating sentries in the skies protecting us from enemy airstrikes, and importantly, too they enable our GPS devices to help us find our way — literally, we’d be lost without them.
The poetry of it all, is, I’m afraid, unavoidable. Even these artificial cousins of the moon — can serve as metaphors and similes. Satellites, one might say, even these owned by multimillion dollar corporations, are symbolic of our dreams. They collect data from our days, store them, and facilitate communications between our conscious and subconscious thoughts, and they help us — if we turn to them — to navigate the emotional terrain of our lives.
And so, if it can’t be resisted, we might as well surrender and wax poetic about the moon and dreams as well. Cycling from darkness to light one silver sliver at a time, the moon reflects the light of the sun back to us, just as our dreams reflect our lives onto the dark screen of sleep. It tugs at the tides, and stands in for our waxing and waning, rising and falling emotions — the very ones that our dreams call us to dive into, and if we pay attention, teach us to swim through.
To moon is to be idle, and in love — and with apologies to the luminary poet who bade us not to do it — one more ode to that pearl in the night and the dreams it inspires — couldn’t possibly hurt.
Go ahead, write a poem about the moon. Here are two suggestions to help you get started:
- Begin each line with the words, “When I look up at the moon I see … ” To add variety, substitute the last word with one of these, then keep writing: imagine…, remember…, wonder…, and dream…
- Write about the moon as if it were a person. Begin each line with the phrase: “If the moon were a person she/he (choose one) would wear … ” To add variety, substitute the last word with one of these, then keep writing: move like…, enter a room like…, speak like…, be holding..,, never stop…
There is no wrong way to write your poem. Let your dreamy imagination run wild. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or what a poem is supposed to sound like. And don’t worry about rhyming, either … just follow the rhythm and cadence of the lines. And enjoy!
Originally published at tziviagover.com on August 5, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com