The Moon is a Sensual Rock

by Sarah Browning

I’ve moved recently, and I’m unpacking books today. Specifically, poetry anthologies, of which I own scads. And what’s here, at hand, is an entire anthology of moon poems called Full, from Two of Cups Press and edited by Leigh Anne Hornfeldt and Teneice Durrant.

This rediscovery is thrilling because I’ve titled the Writers in Progress workshop I’ll be leading beginning in September, “Tonight We Write Down the Moon.” It will be a generative workshop, with a look at how poems are crafted and an exploration of how we bring our five senses into our writing… The moon to me is a sensual rock, always beckoning, always full and empty of meaning.

So, from the many marvelous moon poems in Full, I choose “The Cow,” by Damon McLaughlin, to share with you today:

The Cow

My daughter asserts she is a cow walking in a field on the moon.

It’s 7:30 PM on a Wednesday in October, and the elk have not

     yet come down.

She means, of course, cattle, with their puffs of steam and

     heavy-hipped canters.

We sway in the backyard swing with a blanket and a hot

     chocolate we share.

Moo, I suggest. You’re five. Moo, she says. Daddy, I’ll never


She swings her wide head deeper into the tall stars to low

     among the herd.


I resist reducing poems to their “meaning,” but if pressed, I’d say “The Cow” is about mortality and parent love and the twinning of the two (as the two are always twinned, parents knowing that we will live on in our children, our hearts breaking that we will leave them, that they too will have to die). 

To arrive at this understanding – or whichever you bring to the poem – we are given a sensual scene: we see the cows, their heavy hips and puffs of steam. The moon and stars. We feel the chill of October (a blanket!) and taste the hot chocolate. And we hear: Moo / five / Moo / die. Low. These details bring us close, snuggling with the father and child (even while the child is heading off into the firmament). In this way, the poet distills and intensified the joy, the heartbreak, and the beauty of the poem.  This is just a sample of the kind of reading and writing we will explore in my poetry workshop.  Hope to see you there! 

Sarah Browning’s workshop, Tonight We Write Down the Moon, will start on September 21 and run weekly for 8 Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.”

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