Gravitational Pull

By Rob Carney

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Old Roads, New Stories: A Literary Series


So it’s December, smack dab between What are you thankful for? and New Year’s resolutions, but those things aren’t on my mind at all. What I’m actually thinking about is the moon, the way it’s up there pulling.           

I know it’s pulled me many times, especially when it’s full. Once it even pulled my friend Jason and I at the same time, same direction, and not because we’re both the same zodiac sign. He’s Virgo; I’m Cancer.

This was back in our student days in South Louisiana, south of I-10, south of Carencro, south of Prejean’s Restaurant—food so good I wish I could order up and eat my own memories—south of the track: Evangeline Downs, the horses, reading the race form and placing your bets. We hadn’t planned this, hadn’t driven there together. I just went, and started up the bleacher stairs, and there’s Jason wearing the same expression I am, like You too? What the hell?  

Did we win? Lose? I don’t know; probably we broke about even. The thing I remember is the parking lot after, when we rounded the corner and couldn’t miss it—this full moon, bright orange, about as big as Jupiter, looking like it’s perched on the cypress trees a hundred yards away. It was one of those moments, rare and wonderful, when you catch yourself pausing for a micro-second, and I said, “Wow,” and Jason said, “No wonder we came here.” Case closed.

Maybe the moon’s been on my mind because it seems to live pretty near where I do. Like some beautiful, crazy neighbor. When it’s time, it rises low and huge just behind the Wasatch Mountains, and maybe even out of them, from some secret valley or cold river canyon. Anyway, looking across my backyard, it doesn’t feel impossible.

I don’t have a grand point I’m making here or anything. I’d rather just offer up one of my moon poems and hope it orbits in your thoughts awhile. If it pulls you from low tide to high tide, that would be nice.

There’s Still So Much to Learn About the Moon:

where it comes from; and if it misses home;
and why there’s just the one, not three or four;
and why some nights you barely notice it
but others it can break your heart, so full

there isn’t any room inside for what—
beauty? memory? the push and pull
of loss, of losing what was never yours
to begin with?

                               Meanwhile, we go charting tides
and turning pages of our calendars.
Telescopes get aimed, and side by side
a boy might ask his father if the moon
feels lonely.

                           Side by side, two people sleep,
moonlight spread across the bed . . . soft, silver,
but cold: So they’ll hold close. So they’ll keep warm.



Rob Carney’s fourth book 88 Maps just came out from Lost Horse Press (distribution by University of Washington Press). Previous books and chapbooks include Story Problems and Weather Report, both from Somondoco Press.
Read poetry by Rob Carney appearing in 4th Annual Contest Winner and Issue 30. And listen to a new radio interview with Rob Carney.

Image of moon with face by Elena Schweitzer, courtesy Shutterstock.

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