by Judy Kronenfeld

Pale gibbous rock,
craters and mountains almost
showing, blooming
into the blue wash of early evening,
as I leave the grocery, looking up.
And the black birds
flowing underneath,
scrolling and unscrolling—

“What are you gazing at?” someone on her way in asks,
expectation in her voice,
as if a planetary phenomenon
might be occurring.

“Just the Moon,” I say.
Our piece of stone, low
in the wide brush of sky,
claimable, familiar.
Strange. For a moment not
the Moon, silver disc
hammered to an adornment’s
thinness, but simply a moon
in its 3D rockiness—
as if I were looking out
at a barren body, spun
off a spiraling exoplanet
over some primordial horizon.

Yet, how soon, unhesitating,
evening sinks down,
with slow, accustomed graciousness,
as I drive home. It’s almost dark
as I carry my bread, cheese
and apples tenderly from the car.
The mica-flake moon fixed
above my chimney begins its glittering.

What an unearned sense
of completion as I unlock my door—
as if I’d been out for hours
in the perturbations of the air,
as if I’d helped steer the blazing sun
to its hiding place in the sea.

Originally published in Avatar Review 19 (2017).

PAINTING: Autumn Grasses in Moonlight by Shibata Zeshin (1872).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Terrestrial” was written a few years back, and was very much influenced in a kind of covert way by our growing sense that the continuation of our species in this particular corner of the universe is compromised, and, consequently, by a growing feeling of the preciousness of our galaxy address—as if it were something like an old neighborhood about to be razed. (There are lots of exoplanets rotating around stars, but, so far, we, with our still limited means of seeing, have not found any life on them.) For a moment, one can look at the sky from our earthly vantage point and see the moon as a mere rock and think about how planetary moons are formed. But then the moon snaps back to being “our moon,” and we are once again “terrestrial,” living within the patterns of day and night that seem “natural” and comforting to us, and have been “explained” and enhanced by our myth-making minds.

Kronenfeld 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judy Kronenfeld has published two chapbooks and four full-length collections of poetry, including  Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, (2nd ed. Antrim House, 2012), winner of the Litchfield Review poetry book prize for 2007. Groaning and Singing, her fifth collection, will be published by FutureCycle in early 2022. Her poems have appeared in Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, Ghost Town, New Ohio Review, One (Jacar Press), Pratik, Rattle, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad, Your Daily Poem, and other journals, and in over three dozen  anthologies. She has published stories in Literary Mama, The Loch Raven Review, and other magazines, and creative nonfiction in Under the Sun, Hippocampus, and elsewhere.  She is Lecturer Emerita, Department of Creative Writing, UC Riverside, and an Associate Editor of Poemeleon. Visit her at