A simple poem about the moon.

I wrote this during a class on poetry that I was teaching for Cat Rambo’s excellent writing academy. (There’s a ton of classes available there–if it’s the kind of thing you do, you should check them out.)

I think the writing exercise was something like, “You can find poetry where you look for it.” The night before, the moon had been a heavy, looming harvest orange.

I’ve always liked traditional stories that depict the moon as a lonely woman. I wonder if that was in the back of my head.

Image with lunar cycle and the following text: Luna by Rachel Swirsky "Alone / with no one to call / no man, no lady, no rabbit / only footprints of men / who won't return."

Upwards Toward the Light

Image of Upwards Toward the Light by Rachel Swirsky, an illustrated poem based on and in honor of the work of Ursula K. Le Guin with background image of haze obscuring buildings overlooking a rocky shore.

This poem was published in a poetry anthology memorializing Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s composed from scraps of her writing, cut up, pulled apart, and stitched in different ways to create an elegy.

Upwards Toward the Light

We have nothing but freedom:
not a gift given, but a heavy load
of permanent, intolerable uncertainty
that binds us beyond choice.

To be whole is to be part.
We all have forests in our minds,
unexplored, unending
stories in the middle of living.

When we are finally naked in the cold,
we who are so rich, so full of strength,
we breathe back the breathe that made us live,
we give back to the world all we did not do,
we are left only with kindness.

To see how beautiful the earth is,
you must choose to see it like the moon.