A Story about the Moon

Grady Chambers

I’d been on this road before. Last year lit with wildflowers,

this year the hills stripped bare, baked by sun. It spills out

of Los Angeles like a long black tongue, then nothing

for 500 miles, just dust and shadows of cattle-sheds past towns

so small I turned off just to see who lives there.

My uncle in Oregon told me he got lost once, saw a sign

for a gimp barn beside a creek beneath some pines: an hour

down the road he turned around. He liked the land, he said;

he bought it, never left. I think about that sometimes: happenstance

leading to a life; one set of faces replaced

by others. A girl I loved told me no ones knows for certain

how the moon was formed. That there was earth

where now there are oceans, that a burning rock

slammed into us and the displaced land

became the moon. Back then she could toss a penny

from her bedroom and hit my window,

we lived that close. I remember one winter

passing the exit peeling off towards Cleveland.

She was living there with her father; by then we hardly spoke.

I thought—if I turned off, what would happen;

if I stopped? I think that’s what I mean

about happenstance: where you are and how

you came to be there. And how cold the roads looked.

The ramp and the overpass and the thin metal

of the exit sign. How that day I just kept going.


Grady Chambers is the author of North American Stadiums, winner of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize and published by Milkweed Editions. Poems of his are forthcoming from or have appeared in Diode Poetry Journal; Nashville Review; Forklift, Ohio; Ninth Letter; Midwestern Gothic; New Ohio Review, and elsewhere. He was a 2015–2017 Wallace Stegner Fellow, and currently lives in Philadelphia. For more information, please visit his website, gradychambers.com.