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To the Moon

By Jia
Cover Image: To the Moon
Cover Image Artwork by: Christina Li
Medium: Watercolor, pen
Classification: Painting
Year: 2022

***

Tell me, Goddess,

do you regret giving up?

Is the luster of the moon,

brilliant and bright

enough to make up

for what you have lost?

Your lover has long passed, now,

and the moon,

although bright,

is lonely.

And the moon is hardly bright on its own,

Is it, Goddess?

The light it provides,

that cuts through the haze of eve,

is hardly its own

to begin with.

Are you living a farce?

Oh, Goddess,

I’m not quite certain I’d be happy with such a fate.

The beauty of mortality-

the wonderful, fleeting whisper of it-

is the knowledge that an end is inevitable.

Yet, for you,

an end is forsaken,

in return for a continuous tomorrow.

The acrid taste of never-ending life,

as alluring as it may be at first,

is naught but a cruel punishment

The elder spirits, as they are vitality,

are cruel,

and unforgiving.


Maybe it was all a test?

Yet that would be even crueler,

would it not?

Does a ‘maybe’ negate the tragedy

of you, Goddess?

Or does it simply deepen the wound,

the lightning-pinch hurt of loss,

the bitter taste of shame?


Dear Goddess,

Chang’e of the clouds,

I hope you may look upon the night sky,

and in every star,

see a piece

of the man you had loved,

and in every movement,

a symphony and a map,

so that one day,

if you grew weary of power,

and tired of forever,

perhaps,

somehow,

you could find your way back.

***


The Poet's Notes:

Told at every Lunar Mid-Autumn Festival, the Chinese legend - or at least the version I've heard the most - of the moon goddess goes like this...

Once upon a time, the Earth was scorching hot because there were 10 suns in the sky. The kind-hearted Hou Yi, a hunter and archer, decided that enough was enough- and shot down nine of the ten suns. He told the last sun to rise and fall every day for the benefit of the people. For his act of service, the Queen of Heaven, Wangmu, gave him a special elixir that could turn him immortal and ascend him to the heavens. However, he didn't want to leave his wife, Chang'e, behind. He gave the elixir to his wife for safekeeping. Chang'e was a little greedy, though. She decided to drink the potion herself and become a goddess. She swallowed it and ascended to the moon, leaving behind her husband and the rest of the human world. After a while, she realized how much she disliked being alone. Even if she was immortal and had plenty of magical power, she could never leave the moon. As the punishment for stealing the elixir, she was trapped there forever.

As a child, the story of Chang'e has always fascinated me. It was one with so many variations that drastically changed the story and its characters. But in the end, it all led to the same sad fate; Chang'e, alone on the moon, a divine goddess but a lonely one. I have never been a fan of unhappy endings. While I can appreciate them, I always prefer to hope that a happy ending awaits the characters, even if it takes forever and a day to reach.

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