Nothing makes a sound on the Moon and nothing ever could: not a harpsichordist, not a shattering tureen of mangel-wurzel stew, not the pebble-sized meteoroids that whang down at seventy-eight thousand miles an hour and heat the ground so hot it glows like a little piece of star; not the huge meteoroids that fracture the bedrock, forming craters two hundred miles across, creating new rings of mountains, making the Moon to tremble on and on—since it doesn’t have a sturdy core the Moon is very convulsible; once atremble, it stays atremble. But it fractures and trembles and glows in absolute silence, for sound is like birds and cannot travel without air.
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. The moonscape is pleated and rumpled, with rilles and ridges and craters and crevices and darknesses and brightnesses. Except for some meteor-made bruises, though, its features have not changed for three billion years; they are memorials of an ancient vim. Once the Moon was welling up from inside, jutting into volcanoes from the force of its own melting, cracking at the rind from its deep inner shifts. Now it wears the same glassy expression eon after eon, like a taxidermied antelope. The Moon is a never-brimming eye, a never-whistling teakettle; and it shadows the very flower of planets.
The disposition of the universe—that crazy wheelwright—designates that we live on a wheel, with wheels for associates and wheels for luminaries, with days like wheels and years like wheels and shadows that wheel around us night and day; as if by turning and turning things could come round right.
There is an altitude above every planet where a moon can orbit forevermore. In millions of miles of ups and downs, there is one narrow passageway of permanence. If a moon can reach this groove, it will never crash down like masonry nor drift away like a mood; it will be inalienable; it will circle its planet at the exact speed that the planet rotates, always over one site, like the Badlands or Brazzaville or the Great Red Spot, so that the planet neither drags the moon faster nor slows it down. Moons not locked into this synchronous orbit are either being perturbed up or down.
In truth the beginning of the Moon is a secret: maybe a piece of Earth broke off and went into orbit; maybe the Moon was begotten by a terrible collision; or maybe it really was a drifter snatched from its onward way. However the Moon began, here is how the Moon will finish: in a billion years the Earth will have nudged it far enough away that it will look fifteen percent smaller; in three billion years it will look smaller still; in five billion years, the Sun will become a red giant and swallow its children up. The Earth’s involvement with the Moon will not last long enough to end.
On behalf of those who feel vacant and uninhabited, to whom nothing occurs, who look up day and night from chalky dust into unrefracted blackness, who watch their plush blue-headed neighbors yielding splashy gullies and snow devils and excitable vespiaries and backsliding pinnipeds and heady cauliflowers and turtle centuplets and rosy squirrelfish swarming through Rapture Reefs: on behalf of unprofitable individuals everywhere, is the Moon ordained to ever be a shabby waste of rubbled regolith? Could it never scrabble together a genius like the Earth’s?
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