Chelsea America, Self-Portrait With Everything I Own-Yellow, 2012
35mm film

Mae presses her hands against the screen door
like a beggar outside a bakery window
fingers spread wide like I’ve asked her not to do
twenty times this week and says Mom look up there
I can see the moon and some pink clouds
which one do you like better
and I say
what do you mean and she says the moon
or the clouds which is better
and I say
we need both then unfurl the flag of reason
there are tidal movements to consider
and irrigation and honeybees and miles and miles
of corn and poetry what about poetry
and the word cumulonimbus
without the moon the oceans would stagnate
and did you know a simple Google search
asking what would happen if there was no moon
yields 9,880,000 results in .41 seconds
and that means people who know more than us
about hurricanes and gravity have asked this before
and without the moon there’d be no clouds
and without clouds we’d have nothing to hide
the earth when we flew from here to New York
and this is why we need the clouds and moon
and this is why we can’t choose one over the other
and Mae says yes yes as if to agree
and I am so smug I wait a whole week to tell her
I lied and the moon is better I’d choose the moon
over an old cloud any day and she hasn’t pushed
her weight into the sagging screen for days
and she looks at me the way children look
at adults who can’t make up their minds
like how can I trust you and I hope
my face responds truthfully you shouldn’t


Abby E. Murray