Cold Moon Eclipse

By , December 10, 2011

If you’re reading this early enough in the day, and live in the right part of the world (as we do) be sure to try to see the total lunar eclipse this morning.

If it’s clear this morning, we’ll be able to view the eclipse from the homestead in the early hours, with the totality between 5:06 and 5:58 a.m. Although, at that time of the morning, it’ll be west of us, behind the ridge. We may have to hike up for a good view. I recall we had a total lunar eclipse on December 20 last year, a day before the Winter Solstice.

If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, it’s time for the last full moon poem of the series and the year: Cold Moon—Hannah’s Children.

I don’t know who said it, but I’ve often heard that a good poem reflects what the reader brings to it. I’m not really sure what this poem is about, but to me, it seems to refer to the ancient folkloric tradition that on Christmas Eve at midnight, farm animals kneel and speak (some say pray) in human voices.

This is, of course, one of those exasperating myths that have endured through the ages despite centuries of annual opportunities to test it emperically in farmyards across Christendom. Still, it’s a charming and inspiring story. And it has endured well enough into the 21st century to color Ms. Oliver’s poem in my mind, whatever she might have really meant by it.

Which, as I re-read it, becomes crystal clear. It’s about a goat about to have kids. Duh! Whoever said that about getting out of a poem what you bring to it was dead on.

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