In the tradition, the Moon, personified
as Diana or Cynthia, is female. Her moods and phases
are changeable. I forgot about that when I hit on the plan
to inscribe ERIC + MOLLY in the fine soil
— the regolith — of the lunar surface. There,
barring any vandalism by future tourists,
the record of my devotion to you would last forever.
Or at least for millions of years, until
like an astronaut's patterned footprint,
the markings would be degraded and eroded at last,
by micrometeorites, into illegibility and oblivion.
The obvious objection: how to get there?
I was working out the details.
You're in a relationship with an expiration date, you once said.
But the notes that you wrote and hid everywhere for me to find
in my apartment still persist. Even now I still find new ones
that I've never seen before. They say things like
"Je t'aime!" and "I love pretty pictures of you."
The ink shows no sign of fading.
Even paper was more durable than your affections.
I was never satisfied to write our joined names
in the damp sand of a beach, enclosed within the outline
of a conventional heart. The surf rolls in
and in a few seconds the work is undone.
I try again, quickly. I have to hurry to finish
before the lines are effaced again.
Still, I have come to understand why sand
is the preferred medium for lovers' promises
of permanent devotion. The lovers are hedging.
Their passions are not a matter of choice, so
who knows, really, how long it will last?
Is it self-defeating, my longing to find a permanent form
for the expression of my love for you?
Putting it in writing is no guarantee.
Writing it down only risks
the dissemination — or rather the sterile
multiplication — of so many epitaphs,
monuments to an outlived, outgrown desire.
The meanings of the words, detached like stale URL's,
flap slackly, unanchored from their original referents:
feelings that no longer exist. Traces left by the persons,
now dead and gone, that we used to be.
(August 12-13, 2005)