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The Moon Addresses her Enemies

Alfonso Manalastas

In 1958, at the height of the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union developed secret plans for an unprovoked nuclear strike against [the moon].”
- The Atlantic, 5 April 2017

I see you, clad in metal badges pinned to green,
a troop of the finest men marching at your
command and disposal, your finger—foolish
and condescending—pointed at my face, as if

to question my place among the stars. I see you,
donned in holy robes, scepter, staff, the body
and blood of Christ for nourishment; your impulse,
the divine will of an imagined god. I see you,

gray suit and leather, sparking trade inequities
and carving hunger in the world’s most remote.
This isn’t the first time I’ve stumbled upon your
kind: specks scrambling like wildfire around Earth’s

lush foliage, you come to me in many forms, from
many dynasties, across many centuries with the
credence and conviction that you will one day
see me fall and never rise again. How unabashed

you were after setting fire to the women of your
people: witch, gypsy, harlot, whore, you aim for
me—your planet’s lone companion—looking to
burn down what you cannot defeat. Or,

looking to burn down what you cannot attain.
As with the soft outer layer of an eggshell, you
mistake my skin for something decadent, brittle,
can be cracked open by force except something inside

refuses to be naked. Do you despise the lighthouse
I become in the dark? How it denies you the power
you hold at night? How it clothes your victims
from the nakedness you inflict? Do you despise

                                                              how it unrapes them?

I orbit around your seas, your valleys, your deserts,
beckoning women across six continents to bleed
in the parts you want to conceal the most.
Their bodies—diminutive in size and heedless of their

power—are vessels of a life force unbreakable, like a
rock in space whose permanence gloats boisterously
against your quiet mortality. O, how jealous you
must be that a decade from now, you will set forth

on an expedition to plant a steel rod on my surface.
You will send two of your best men to X-Ray my deepest
secrets, chart my vast expanse, deface my solitude
with your star-spangled banner. Loud and liquid,

the story of your bounty will be spilled in every dinner
table, how man alone tamed and conquered the
undying beast in the sky. My vanity, to be televised
for a world that has forgotten what gravity I hold

in my navel, what light I carry in my breasts, what
succor I bring to the rising of the tides. Yours, after all,
was not the first finger to be pointed at my face.
I’ve seen them from kings whose crowns bleached

to rust, thrones crumbled to ash, men shriveled
to gray, and soon, you will be, too—but I will be
the same moon coasting through the night whose flight
is yours to observe only from a distant telescope.

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