Among the many facts I learned that night the one that stuck was the fact that since the expansion of the universe, the moon has been steadily and significantly backing away from the earth, which meant the moon once appeared much larger in the past and would only appear smaller in the future. I couldn’t get over it. I went to bed trying to imagine it and woke up thinking about it. I was obsessed.
That obsession led her to seek more information about the moon and was the prewriting for the poem.
I also read everything I could get my hands on about the moon. That fascination has been long-lived as I’m still reading about the universe and am just now I’m finishing up Timothy Ferris’ Coming of Age in the Milky Way .
The second aspect of the poem is that my extended family was going through a life-crisis, a not uncommon state of affairs for them, so that was in the back of my mind. I was in the process of working to pull away from them. Maybe I became obsessed with the moon as a way to curb my obsession with the latest family crisis. But the tug of the family is tremendous. Even a crazy family can seem better than no family. The poem is two obsessions in collision.
This idea of two obsessions or ideas in a collision is also something we would love to see in your poem.
Laux's original intent ("That the listing of the facts was in some way interesting was my only concern.") took that leap in another direction that led to the poetic collision.
As I mention on the website, you could cheat on the prompt and work backward - start with an idea for a poem and then research the facts about a subject within the poem.
The leap from the planetary to the personal might have been a technique had I thought of it consciously, but I didn’t. It happened naturally, organically, without my being aware of it until I had finished the poem. I really thought the poem was about the moon, and these two people I had made up, the woman and her boy, strangers to me, but realized then it was my mother and my sister, or my sister and my niece, in disguise.
It might be difficult to "prompt" a leap in writing a poem, but I have the feeling that if you can put one obsession into motion, perhaps it will naturally collide with another and produce enough energy for the poem to move.