Still Life ~ craft + creativity
photo by Charlotte Hamrick

Still Life is our regular feature that invites writers, artists, and musicians to share a favorite creative prompt or craft lesson, or to tell us about a book, poem, song, or film that’s been inspirational to them. Still Life offers opinions, experiences, or lessons on creativity, artistic processes, and the role of arts in culture.

For this installment of Still Life, we’re republishing one of Still contributor Charlotte Hamrick’s essays from her Substack newsletter, The Hidden Hour. We loved Charlotte’s evolution with the moon and the compelling meditations she comes to while considering nature, music, place, and dreaming of the moon. 

Moon Sick

by Charlotte Hamrick

I grew up in the country, spending years of nights under a vast unending veil of star studded sky. I took the moon for granted, never gave her much thought. She was always up there unless clouds held her in a smothering kiss. I remember the first walk on the moon and how we gathered around the TV like millions of other people, wondering how it felt to be so far from home and was it real, really-real? I remember looking out the window at her in the sky and thinking men are up there right now. But other than that I don’t recall being especially noticing of her phases, of the turning of the Earth over her face. It was only in adulthood that I began watching her, reading about her, became moon sick, began writing poems and stories about her. They say her waxing and waning move tides in the ocean and in people, that a full moon brings out the wild in us. I believe the moon holds echoes of the past, absorbs the wishes and dreams of those who came before us (and us) and has all of it wrapped up in her aura. That’s what we see, what we feel when we look up and see her shining — a beacon linking past to present.

When I was a teen in rural Mississippi, I’d lie in my bed at night, late at night, and listen to WZZQ radio out of Jackson, if I was lucky enough to catch the signal. It would be heavy dark, as dark is in the country, with only the small gleam of the radio dial. I’d be in a cloistered world of only myself and the voices that sang through the air waves. There are three songs I remember from that time that even today take me back to my small teenage bedroom: “Hynotized” by a very young Fleetwood Mac, “Fresh Air” by Quicksilver Messenger Service, and “Born to Run” by Springsteen. I’d listen with my heart bursting to run, run away, run to anywhere but where I was, afraid I’d never see anything, go anywhere, be stuck stuck stuck in this small town in the middle of a small state. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be on my own. So many feelings felt in those teenage years and the music fueled my discontent.

I wouldn’t go back to those angsty years for anything but the music was everything.

I took the pic above when I noticed how beautiful the moon shone through the tree branches. It’s the light above right of the gaslight. Of course, my phone cam didn’t catch anywhere near her brilliance but that’s ok. The pic will help me remember.

Two things I’ve recently read I want to share:

This Medium post by my writer friend Gina Harlow about Christine McVie and the song “Hynotized” that helped prompt this post. 

This poem about the moon by a favorite poet, Dorianne Laux.

And here’s a poem I wrote that was published in 2016 by Literary Orphans.

Another Poem About the Moon

We don’t know shit about the moon,

her wants or desires, what she feels when

she looks at us across the expanse,

so green and blue and teeming with life.

And us, like a giant eye looking back, plotting

our next invasion. We look up into endlessness

and there she is.

Patient. Steady. Loyal.

We planted a flag  on her and we think that makes her ours.

She will never be ours.

I remember the night we lay in the bed

of your old Chevy truck looking up at her,

as still and lonely as a lost dime on the sidewalk.

The air was crisp and our breath floated

dreamily from our mouths like bouncing astronauts

in zero gravity. I felt weightless that night, as if

you and I and the old Chevy were riding moonbeams

to a place that could be ours. But I lifted my hand

and the tip of my finger covered her face. I knew then

that nothing in this universe

is steady.

Sweet moon dreams.

Charlotte Hamrick’s creative writing and photography has been published in a number of literary journals including Still: The Journal, The Citron Review, Atticus Review, Reckon Review, Trampset, and New World Writing, among many others. Her fiction was selected for the Best Small Fictions 2022 anthology and she’s had several literary nominations. She is Creative Nonfiction Editor for The Citron Review and Features Editor for Reckon Review. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets where she sometimes does things other than read and write. Follow her on Substack and Twitter.


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