I Fell in Love with the Moon

by Loren Rhoads

I fell in love with the moon when I was five years old. My mother forced me to sit still in front of the television and watch as the Eagle crept down and settled on the powdery surface of the moon. Neil Armstrong’s big weightless bounces made walking on the moon look like so much fun that I wanted to be an astronaut. I remember standing outside that night, staring up at the moon and thinking: There are men up there now. I don’t have a name for the wonder that filled my heart.

A footprint on the moon The Eagle has landed..." by [-ChristiaN-] is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Eagle has landed on the moon

I felt some of that same childish thrill the night of the recent lunar eclipse. I dragged myself across San Francisco half-heartedly. Out where I live, near the ocean, the fog swirled thickly overhead. I was sure we’d never see anything.

Turns out, I timed my arrival about right. At 7:30, the moon hung in the east over San Francisco Bay, a pale orange-red ghost of itself. The whole round disk was the color of dried blood. Ominous. Is this what is meant by the moon turning to blood in Revelations? I can see how people were frightened by it in the past.

The moon turned as dark as a spoiling orange

As the shadow of the earth shambled across it, the moon turned as dark as a spoiling orange. I wished I could see what color the moonlight was, but the city glowed brighter than moonlight. Maybe next time I’ll have to go to the desert for the lunar eclipse. I want to be surrounded by that burnt blood light. I want to see it in the air, on the ground, and yet, I don’t want to feel it on my skin. I’ll have to suit up like a nuclear engineer—or an astronaut.

View of lunar "Eclipse from Grand View Park" by Ocu-Master is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Eclipse from Grand View Park

My friend Mike had his binoculars mounted on a tripod. When we looked at the moon, Saturn was just visible at the lower corner. The rings were only a pale yellow blur. Mike turned the tripod to look at Jupiter. Four of the moons were the tiniest pinpricks of light against the blackness of space. Other worlds, I thought. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone were there, right now, looking back at me?

I thought about Artemis and Diana and Selene and Luna

I thought of the Ray Bradbury stories I’d loved as a young woman. I thought about Artemis and Diana and Selene and Luna, about Changxi/常羲) and Coyolxauhqui, “Painted with Bells”and Ix Chel, Yah and Maou, Tsukuyomi/ツクヨミ, 月読 and Thoth. I thought about the moon as a goddess or a god, inconstant and in need of sacrifice, and how little attention we pay to the moon any more.

  • An eagle some trees and the moon
  • Toth Moon god

The earth’s shadow began to creep away from the face of the moon. The uncovered moon burned bright white, as if it was brand new. First we saw just a drop of magnesium-white fire, then a line, then the slimmest paring of silver. The reflected sunlight took the longest time to form a crescent. The bright part looked bigger and much closer than the smoky orange shadow.

In my heart, I was a child again, staring up at the sky.

Create Cultural Memories through Literature and Art

Read more of Loren’s memories of the moon in This Morbid Life.

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