Celestial Motion

by John McDonnell

Full Moon

Hello, the moon said. Its kind eyes were just visible above the windowsill. Its voice was soothing and reverberant.

Daria sat up in bed. I'm glad you're back, she said.

I always come back. The moon was smiling, and the room was flooded with light.

I'm afraid, she said.

We're all afraid. Come outside where I can see you better.

Daria put on her robe and climbed out on the roof.

Ah, the moon said. Now I can see you. You look tired, distracted.

I can't sleep.


The moon was so close Daria could have touched it if she stood up. It was so bright the sky around it was the color of late afternoon.

What is it you want? The moon asked.

I want permanence. I want things to stay the same.

They can never do that.

Why not? They stay the same for you. You come back every month, you go through your phases, and then start over again.

I follow different laws. Besides, it was not always so. I was once part of the Earth. Then, in the early days, I became separated. Now I am always longing to get back to my Mother. And someday, many years hence, we will all be swallowed up in the Sun's fire. So, you see, change even affects me. It just happens on a different scale.

The moon was moving higher in the sky now. Soon it would be directly overhead. Its voice was farther away.

What should I do? Daria asked.

You must let go. You cannot hold back Change.

It is not easy. There are people I love.


The moon was past its zenith now, and moving down the bowl of the sky. Daria listened to the stillness of the night, and felt the warm summer breeze ruffle her robe. The forest was nearby, and she watched the silhouettes of trees swaying in the breeze. In the pond a bullfrog croaked. Her body felt light as air, almost as if she could float away. She thought of her father, with his white hair and his clear blue eyes. The feeling of her hand in his, walking through the cedar forest. I have a question, she said. She had to raise her voice, because the moon was farther away.

What is it?

Are there other people out there?

We've spoken of this before, the moon said.

I know, but tell me again.

Of course there are. Billions of lives, all living the dream they have dreamed for themselves.

Will I get to see any of them?


Will I get to see my past again? See old friends, familiar faces?

In time, in time. You must be patient.

The moon was close to the horizon now. It always made her sad to see it go.

There is not much time, the moon said. Its voice was like distant thunder.

Yes, she said. I wish there was more.

I must be going, the moon said.

Goodbye, my friend, Daria said.

The moon sunk slowly down the sky till it was just a white glow by the horizon, and then it disappeared. But the sky to the East had already begun to glow with a pinkish hue, and the first rays of the sun began to appear. The sun's light woke up the animals of the forest, and there was a cacophony of noise. Daria looked down at her hands and saw that they were etched deeply with lines. Her bones creaked from the morning dampness, as she got up and made her way back to the window. She wondered how many conversations she'd have left with the moon.

Copyright © 2004, John McDonnell

John McDonnell is a freelance writer who lives outside of Philadelphia with his wife and four children. He has had short stories published in many online magazines, including: The Harrow, Aoife's Kiss, Writer's Hood, and Another Realm. After a brief fling with poetry in college, he gave it up for many years. Recently, however, he has been drawn to poetry again, and carries a notebook everywhere.

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Image of the moon courtesy USGS Astrogeology Research Program