Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

Why write another poem about the moon?

because my grays grow more numerous
than moonlight & when my son asks to pluck one 
I tell him three more will shine
in its place because I do not tell him 
about Hydra’s serpent heads 
multiplying this way because its teeth 
raise skeletons from the dead 
because my son already asks 
where do the dead live? 
with all their stones & stories 
because he doesn't want me 
to die please please don't die 
he repeats not ever something 
about other dead bodies must make
mine more certainly alive because the dog 
is graying too so she will die soon he believes
& his Papa isn't much older but is sick & sleeps
a lot so he will die soon because when I'm ten
will you be very very old? he asks because
before he could say moon he loved her
in all her ageless light because he knew
she was stone & loved her all the more 
for her undying heft
her float untethered 
so when he plucks my grays 
& begs the hairs don’t die I let him
fall asleep their glowing strands 
threaded around his fingers believing
this will keep me too

Why write another poem about the moon

with all her names & animals 
dragged out into the March sky 
eagle moon goose moon crow-comes-
back moon because what my mother 
moon drags out of her mouth is less 
animal because she doesn’t know 
to blame the sky for my son's phases 
his "bad behavior" or his father’s 
“sick genes” passed down by blood 
& breath & blood on the moon 
means death & if he’s this bad now
what will the future hold she says afraid 
of what his hands will do you must 
discipline it out of him or else like moon 
always returning to her fullness he too will turn
into his father & I will love them both & foolishly 

protest the cycle there are worse things 
he could turn into I say & she asks what? 
at first refusing to read the links 
for signs & symptoms of ADHD & 

autism spectrum disorders & instead googling  
“boarding schools for bad boys” while I turn 

to his hands & the worm moon & all 
the earthworms she drags out like the one 

on my mother's front step held more gentle 
than breath in my son’s palm as he begged 

to bring it inside to keep & love to hold 
this way forever but my mother 
wouldn't have it in her house 
not earth or rain or animal 
not uncontainable soft light 
so we left it there on stone & the next day
look it left its skin behind for me my son said
a gift & I couldn’t bring myself to tell him 
this leaving is what death can look like 

so under that same moon renamed 
sugar moon strong wind moon sore eye 

moon mother always mother 
moon I nodded yes a gift 



From the Author: These poems come from a chapbook manuscript, Parallax or the Many Moon Poems, that is likely growing into a full-length book. It grapples with the many parallels between motherhood and the moon—the way it rises, sets, waxes, and wanes—when raising a neurodivergent child with a disabled partner. The way a mother, like the moon, is always there—worrying, spinning, pulling tides—mothering, even when we cannot see her.

Julia Kolchinksy Dasbach emigrated from Dnipro, Ukraine as a Jewish refugee in 1993, when she was six years old. She is the author of three poetry collections: The Many Names for Mother, winner the Wick Poetry Prize (Kent State University Press, 2019), finalist for the Jewish Book Award; Don’t Touch the Bones (Lost Horse Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Idaho Poetry Prize; and 40 WEEKS, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2023. Her poems appear in POETRY, Blackbird, American Poetry Review, and The Nation, among others. She holds an MFA from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation, Lyric Witness: Intergenerational (Re)collection of the Holocaust in Contemporary American Poetry, pays particular attention to the underrepresented atrocity in the former Soviet territories. She is the founder and host of Words Together, Worlds Apart (@wtwa2020), a virtual poetry reading series born out of pandemic but meant to outlast it. She is currently Murphy Visiting Fellow in Poetry at Hendrix College and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her two kids, cat, dog, and husband.