Poetry: New Moon Ceremony by Brandon Thurman

In “New Moon Ceremony,” the speaker deconstructs the fascination with “New Moons” and puts a spin on the evolution of perspectives.

New Moon Ceremony


What the hell is the big deal

about the moon? The poets

won’t shut up about it. Even

my husband has started

stepping out into the dark

on the new moon with a bottle

of red wine & one of the prayer books

he bought off Amazon. I really don’t

get it. New moon always sounded so

hopeful to me, but when I go

out with him, the sky is black,

I mean black, & the prayers sound the same

whether he reads from the little pagan

paperback or his hefty Jewish tome.

I suppose that should make me feel

good, one with all humanity or some such,

but all I wanted at that exact moment

was to go back inside. I mean, this is all so

human, right, to try to ignore the celestial

body that’s up there throwing around

its gravitational weight like some kind of

god? In Hawaii with my wife—I know,

I know, what did I just say about

ignoring bodies, gravitational pulls—

she was bleeding again like she did

every month we failed in our duty to be

fruitful and multiply. Down on the beach,

we tried not to notice how the horizon

never seemed to end. What freaks me out

is how the wave that cracked my body

against that ocean floor wasn’t even

that big. It was one of those moments

where your face is shoved into

the fact that you could just die, easy

peasy. In the residential unit

where I worked in those days,

the kids really did go crazy

on the full moon, though I tried

to write this off as superstition

or confirmation bias. It was like

they hid moon phase calendars

under their mattresses. This one kid

came at me with a literal metal rod

he’d wrenched off his bedframe.

After the kids finally twitched off

to sleep, someone would always quip

how it must have been a bloodbath

at the local ER. While we wrote up

our reports, Metal Rod Kid was only

feet away, shaking through sleep

under his Virgin Mother blanket

that stunk of night terror piss.

I confess. On the drive home,

I didn’t look up into the sky

once. Back in the apartment,

I navigated to the bedroom

without flipping a single light on.

I slipped quietly into bed beside

my snoring wife. I still prayed

back then, so I probably did.

It would be dishonest of me

to describe here, at the end

of this poem, how the moon

was shining outside our window

while I lay in the dark counting shadows.

I’m not kidding. I really didn’t look.

Brandon Thurman

Brandon Thurman is the author of the chapbook Strange Flesh (Quarterly West, 2018). A 2021 Gregory Djanikian Scholar, his poetry can be found in The Adroit Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Nashville Review, Sixth Finch, and others. He lives in the Arkansas Ozarks with his husband and son. You can find him online at brandonthurman.com or on Twitter @bthurman87.

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