For Nyla

by Maya Jane Sorini

Did you know that the moon moves constantly away from the earth?
Each year, she drops 3.8 centimeters farther from our orbit.
Someday, she will be free from our planet’s pull,
Finally able to nest in her own stretch of space, even as
We lose tides, lose her light at night, lose the ache of her blue beauty in our desolate sky.

When I was small, I thought the moon loved me back.
To be fair, she chased me as I trailed
My fingers on the cold clear window of our minivan, always keeping up.
I was comforted by the idea that she would be wherever I was going.
In those years, I never had to be without her.

I began to wonder: did the moon love visiting the bright green North, just as I did,
Or was she afraid, like me, of leaving anyone precious out of sight, for fear of quick disasters?
I knew it was foolish, but I still looked out for the moon when in cars, planes, buses, trains.
As I grew, I felt better knowing that no matter the shatter
Of city enveloping my fragile body, the moon still ruled the sky.

But now I am older. I often find myself staring through plexiglass airplane windows
Frosted with the rosy gold of condensed stratosphere,
With no moon to be found where she once stood.
I have gone the way of the arctic tern, spanning
Oceans on cold grey wings alone,

Truly alone, blasting East through moonless skies.
She was the first to teach me what I know: every year is a lesson in losing.
You lose hours between tarmac and tire, the timbre of voices, now dead,
And why shouldn’t I be afraid of losing the moon?
She doesn’t follow me anymore and I have lost more voices than I know how to count.

She’s running away from us and I don’t blame her.  There’s nothing worth staying for.
The day I decided to leave St. Louis, I turned my tear chapped face to the moonless sky
And said to her absence, “I’m so sorry, I can’t keep this up. Not anymore.
I can’t collapse, belly to the ground, hearing gunshots while cooking dinner.
I can’t watch chest tubes be pushed into lifeless children.

I can’t teach another mother how to put a tourniquet around her son’s leg,
Knowing full well that this lesson is a placebo,
Since he will be in the anonymous streets when he is gunned down and bleeding.”
The moon didn’t look back over her dark shoulder, she never responded at all.
After all, she taught me that it is impossible to respond when someone says

“You know my student, the 4th grader you met, she was shot and killed this summer.”

Maya J. Sorini is a current Narrative Medicine Master’s student at Columbia University. She was raised in Maryland and went to college at Washington U. in St. Louis, where she also spent three years doing clinical trauma surgery research. Her understanding of trauma has been informed by her personal and professional experiences in equal parts, leading her to a passion for trauma informed care. Poetry allows her to cope with the stress of working in trauma and provides her a creative outlet for healing.