Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

Sideways Review: I’ll Be the Moon

John Proctor


Amy Leach’s “You Be the Moon”

The Best American Essays



~4th in a series


Let us now reflect upon the moon; for the moon has long reflected upon us.

Let me now not only reflect upon the moon but assume its stature. I am enamored of the Sun and the Earth. I sing to one the light of the other, but

Also the Earth may sing to the Sun, and the Sun to the Moon, and the Moon to the Sun, songs of representative length.

My interior is perhaps hollow, and exponentially less dense than the Earth’s. Thus, while prone to reflection, I’m not so inclined toward introspection. My exterior is what is important, so much that I am the focal point of Imaginative Exteriorism, a philosophy invented by Leach in which

…by looking at the exterior, we imagine the interior; for the face often tattles on the heart, and an empty surface may bespeak an empty center (though this is not true of alligator eggs).

But my virtue is not only to be found in my exteriority or in my songs. My own lunarity is rendered in the connection I offer between the Sun, source of all energy, and the Earth, incubator of all life:

The Sun spins in place so his path is just a point; and the Earth leaves a long ellipse around the sun; but your path is a convoluted zigzag, for you loop around a looping planet.

My path, then, without touching it circles life, which itself circles the fire from a safe distance. This itself is a reflection (figuratively, at least) of my third-rate status among the spheres.

…is the Moon ordained to ever be a shabby waste of rubbled regolith? Could it never scrabble together a genius like the Earth’s? What about molecule trustees, like the Sun? The solar wind blasts a plasma of particles throughout the solar system; could not some of these particles accrue upon the moon?

Too much is made of accumulation. Every time my light is doubled and redoubled on the surfaces of window, ocean, and lovers’ eyes, this is a reflection of a reflection.

From looking at its face we had inferred that the moon’s heart is small and dead; but this is not to say that its face has no properties; not even the most stuporous face has no properties.

I’ll not beam light, but rather reflect it from my “stony face.” What flame, then, does my exterior ignite in the imagination? What message might I reflect? Shine on, friends, whether in the vital light of your own fire or the reflection of another’s.


John Proctor, who can also be found at Numéro Cinq, is reading one volume of The Best American Essays a month for the next two years. One of his favorite lunar-related songs is Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” 

More of John Proctor’s BAE reviews.

The Best American Essays 2009
Mary Oliver, Editor
Robert Atwan, Series Editor
Mariner Books

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