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You’re forgiven,

said the moon


with a wink at the dawn

and a meaningful look 

at the sea


as she sank through the veils

with your night’s work of rope

twisted from shadows

and bedsheets.


In a flash, she sent it spinning

as if bound to an arrow

to burn across the pale waters

of morning


and settle into place among the 

fading night stars, glimmering 

like hope

or a ladder.


Go, said the moon,

for regret is unkind,

and what is here 

was not lost,

but in shadow.


Then she smiled, thin as night

her face hollowed by light,

I know

a few things

about shadows.




I’ve been sick for the past couple of weeks, and as I heard from others who’ve met our newest viral community member, the nights were the worst part. My memories of those hours are now vague at best, but the clearest of them are cast in moonlight. I don’t mean the romantic, illuminating kind, but a Super Moon searchlight, skilled at exposure. As I tossed and turned, April’s Pink Moon highlighted every aching detail, and I cursed its every creeping inch. 

The moon and I are normally on good terms. I love its dependable rhythms as well as the occasional eclipse. Of all the moon’s associations — tide conductor, season keeper, ballad sparker — the one that intrigues me the most is its monthly disappearing act. The moon appears to be losing itself, gradually, and then entirely. But despite what we perceive, it hasn’t gone anywhere. The new moon is just passing through our shadow. 

So are we, I think — both becoming new, and in shadow. But it’s not COVID19 casting scary shapes on the walls, as much as I’d like to believe it’s so. My own fears, and the thoughts that drive them, are what can keep me up at night. This poem isn’t about that, or how to sort through what’s true or not true in the thick of a fever. It’s about a moment in which I was hard on myself — and then forgave myself — for having the thoughts and fears in the first place. 

Becoming new in the shadows isn’t for the faint-hearted. The moon makes it look easy, and my cursing it in the dark was largely born of envy. As a clear dawn finally ended one of those very long nights, I felt sheepish, and then ashamed. I apologized to the moon for my behavior… and then, I thought I saw her smile. 

Perhaps it was a crater or two, fading against the brightening sky, or just my own weary idea. But in that moment my regret slipped a bit, and a bemused relief seeped in. 

We are living in a messy time. Shadows can show us the best and the worst in ourselves, and sometimes we’ll want to shun the worst. But as the moon illustrates, month after month, becoming something new means meeting ourselves with all that we are, and all that is here — including a vast and steady kindness.

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