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Measurements of the Moon’s Natural Infrared Thermal Radiation1

Eunsah Chan

CC: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there’s one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-O has been living there for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.

LMP: Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.2

the gods have a rabbit in heat
pounding out immortality in a bucket on the moon.

legend says it’s in honor of his sacrifice, but really
the gods must know the power
of a sex drive redirected—each thrust

of pestle into mortar accompanied
by a muttered expletive, muscles
ache but take strange satisfaction

in the hard, repeated shock
of each blow sending quivers from
tip of ear to cottoned rump.

where else could immortality come
but from the frenzied labor of
a biological imperative’s forced frustration?
(though the gods no longer seem
inclined to drink)

this elixir’s made-to-order for Chang’e,
so desperate for a solo trip she stole her husband’s
tickets for their honeymoon:
now perpetually opiated
she wraps her legs around the cassia tree
to stay in orbit, body’s tug

continually heavenward against the bark
leaving thighs as white as lunar loess

the man in the moon disapproves
but can’t seem to turn his face away.
“it’s a strange arrangement,” he murmurs,
“but I guess whatever it takes
to generate some heat.”
“hm-mm,” hums the bodhisattva
standing tiptoe on the sun. peering

at the wrong side of the moon,
now he regrets that Chang’e’s husband
didn’t shoot an arrow into him as well,
if only for a taste of what it feels like to
explode, and finally let one’s body
fall to earth

(note: the cinnamon tree is a mistranslation—
really it’s a sweet osmanthus, endlessly regenerating
despite the efforts of the lonely woodsman
who third-wheels in some versions of the tale,

though maybe he, too, finds some pleasure
in the match—the twisting
regrowth of each limb that reaches toward him

even as he swings his axe)

          “Breaking the osmanthus twig and
            mounting the dragon” was another
            euphemism, in this case, for sex.3

1  "Measurements of the Moon's Natural Infrared Thermal Radiation." Ryadov, V. Y., Furashov, N. I., & Sharonov, G. A. Soviet Astronomy, Vol. 8, July-August 1984, p.82
2  Apollo 11 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, p.179
3  Eberhard, Wolfram. Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought, Routledge & Kegan Paul (London), 2013, p.76; qtd. in Wikipedia [2].

Eunsah Chan is a friendly guishin (but not a gweilo) haunting the liminal student-dropout-bo/barista spaces of Berkeley, CA. Twisted Moon feels fitting as her first publication. Mostly she dallies on the metaphysical plane, but has left some digital footprints at