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.