Moon Ghazal

Alison Zheng

We lived next to a freeway. Our neighbors were raccoons. Looking up, we seldom saw the moon. 
I didn’t want to live there, or anywhere, consoling myself with the myth of a lady-thief on the moon.

Rabbit aside, Chang ’e interacted with nothing and no one while being worshipped from afar.
Today on earth, my pileas are dying. I can’t stand their browning edges, their decaying moons.

As a child, I drank black goo made from herbs so bitter it tasted like the earth. Mother taught me to
chase it with Haw Flakes, pink candy shaped like coins. Mother taught me to swallow many moons.

The specialist tells me to relax. She places cups on my back in neat columns of two. My blood
becomes bruises soon. My blood writes a couplet onto my back about eggs and the moon. 

I don’t know what stresses me more: spending money or saving it. After the Empress Dowager Cixi
died, they looted her tomb. They stole the pearl from her mouth. Stole her phosphoresce moon. 

We walked until we reached Land’s End and I couldn’t walk anymore. You made fun of my shoes,
hoisted me onto your back, and carried me downhill. You with crimson hair like a strawberry moon.

At family dinners, nothing is louder than the sound of rice being chewed. Still, on a clear night,
they’ll text me, “Alison, have you seen the moon?” Yes. We take comfort in seeing the same moon.