WD: Most children believe that the Moon follows them around, turning its face to watch them as they run the length of a beach or duck under dark foliage. When she was young, Zora Neale Hurston got into an argument with her friend over whom the Moon really chased. To settle the point, the two girls stood back-to-back and ran in opposite directions. Both claimed victory.
Poets are essentially adults who retain a childish way of looking at the world. (You only have to look at their bank balance to know this is true.) So the Moon has always been an area of interest for me—because it loves me the best.
AV: What about the moon keeps you ever curious?
WD: I enjoy writing about the ubiquitous, the cliché, the eye-rollingly poetic. It's a problem with no known cure.
Why the moon, specifically? Maybe all poets unconsciously worship an ancient moon goddess, as Robert Graves suggested. Or maybe I'm drawn to the Moon because of the imminent construction of a permanent lunar base, which will usher in a new era of moon colonization, commercialization, and resource-mining. I, for one, want to take a good look at the Moon before it's lit up like a garish Christmas tree in a department store window.
AV: How much time have we left till the moon is garishly lit up?
WD: It’s difficult to say. NASA has officially proposed 2028 as the date for its establishment of a permanent lunar base, but this timeline seems unrealistic. The Artemis mission, which is slated to land the first woman and person of color on the moon, has just been pushed back to 2025. Considering the still-rippling effects of the pandemic and the forthcoming collapse of the global economy, I expect these dates will recede further into the future.
Consulting my crystal ball, I'd wager the first lunar retirement community for the uberwealthy will have its ribbon cutting around 2060. And the whole thing will be a coruscating strip mall by this time next century.
AV: Will they, in an unlikely act of consideration for humanity, consider building on the dark side of the moon so our view doesn't change all that much?
WD: No chance!
AV: How would ancient folklore (and the rabbit on the moon) change in the wake of rapid changes on the moon's surface?
WD: I used to think, once it was colonized, the moon would lose its symbolic potency. All its romance and folklore would be drained away and we would think of it with as much reverence and wonder as we think of Greenland.
But now I'm not so sure.In November 2021, the Chinese lunar rover (called Yutu 2 in an allusion to the Moon goddess's pet rabbit in Chinese myth) spotted a bizarre cube-shaped structure on the far side of the moon. This robot rabbit is now rolling toward the "mystery hut" to investigate.
So now I think the moon will stay enchanted through a merger of folklore and technology. A troubling merger, to be sure, but perhaps inevitable.
AV: Accepting the fate of the moon being 'a merger of folklore and technology', what is the best version of this weird gaudy moon habitat that we'll get to see when we look through our telescopes in the not-so-far future?
WD: Ideally, the moon would resemble Antarctica—an untouched desert dotted with small, self-sustaining settlements. These colonies would be populated by eccentric scientists and artists who are committed to leaving a light footprint in the lunar dust. And of course, in this dream, I would be among them.
. . .
Will Dowd is a writer and artist based in the Boston area. His poetry, essays and art have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, NPR, Writer's Digest, and elsewhere. His first book, Areas of Fog (Etruscan Press), was named a Massachusetts Book Awards Nonfiction "Must Read." He earned a BA from Boston College, an MS from MIT, and an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University.