Young Moons

By Melissa Sevigny

February 25, 2019

Young Moons

The moon drifts in the west, too thin to be called a crescent, Venus above like a sleeping child lowered by invisible hands into a cradle. It's a glimmer in the sunset sky above a skyline of pine, a sweep of summer grass. Without the aid of cameras and telescopes, it's rare to spot a moon in the sky younger than 22 hours old. Two English maids hold the record for the youngest moon ever seen, at just 14½ hours: Nellie Collinson and Lizzie King of Yorkshire. They told the mistress of the house, who wrote the news to a local astronomer, who recorded the date: May 2, 1916, the night of a German Zeppelin raid on York. I think of them now, those two women from another age, drawn outside to stare skyward. Behind them, the darkened house waits with dinner dishes to scrub and beds to turn down. Ahead, forty miles inland, the city of York burns. What did they see there in the sky, I wonder, as the Earth turned into shadow? A moon so thin you could wish on it like an eyelash. Knife-sharp, the edge of hope.

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