Disability and the Man in the Moon

Man in the Moon Carrying a Bundle of Sticks


Few remember today that the man in the moon was sent there for stealing sticks. He is also associated with thorn bushes and in some legends he actually steals thorns. Sometimes when I’m walking alone late at night with my guide dog I think about him, our old probationer standing in the arid climes. I wonder if he got away with a few sticks under his shirt. Additional versions of the tale suggest that his crime wasn’t so much stealing sticks but that he stole them on the sabbath. You see how this goes. Thorns, sticks, theft, holy days–the man in the moon is the story of poverty. In this way its also very likely the story of disability, for who would steal sticks on Sunday but the hunch back, the deaf man, the half blind woman, gathering fire wood when no one is around to watch, to point and make jests. This is hardly an idle supposition. Disability has always been the story of ostracism and this is why the exceptions matter. Meantime, the man in the moon with his cleft palate and his gnarled hands was picking up god’s dropped branches hoping to sell them or, perhaps, host his very own fire. Five, six, pick up sticks. Last night, walking with Nira, her harness jingling, and no one about, I felt deeply affected by my brother on the moon. I stopped on the sidewalk and said a little votive poem for him. Bring your moon near the earth and make men mad. Shine right in our faces friend. In any event, walking in public with my meager eyes shut from fatigue, my excellent dog navigating in the dark, I think of the long history of people like me.       

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