Tonight, my niece tells me,
the moon is closer than normal.
A learned seven-year-old, she attempts
to explain some elementary astrophysics,
but her oration on planetary motion
is cut short by my sister’s offer of ice cream.
And while tomorrow’s greatest astronomer
does a quick conical volume calculation
to see if her baby sister has more strawberry
swirl than she, my eyes are drawn back
to the moon and its pock-marked complexion.
It looks heavy in the helium sky, a ball,
a balloon, a plate, an egg. Also, a marshmallow,
an eye, a pregnant spider, those metaphors
with which we are less familiar:
a cup of milk, a snow crab, a blanched olive,
an uncovered knee, a hole, a bald man in prayer.
As my nieces spin and slide on their linoleum
kitchen floor, I step out into the Tennessee night.
I reach my hand into the cool mid-March breeze.
I stretch my fingers as far as they will go
knowing that tonight I am as close as I have
ever been to touching the moon and all its brightness.
And depending on the next steps of sweet Eva,
and the incredible gravity of strawberry swirl, it may be
the closest I’ll ever come.