moon song / 月歌

Kayleigh Sim

i. america i once planted a moonflower, 月光花 in the midst of your love affair with sunflowers, dug into my moon garden with earth-filled fingernails as if i could unearth my identity and find my roots in your soil. america you imagine moonflowers as weeds, this wilderness of a plant. yes, moonflowers wither their petals to the sun, sing in a language laced with strangeness, and it’s like, is there a purpose in a nocturnal flower? this nation sleeps in oblivion at the beauty of moonflowers. and when this country wakes at dawn, this is what it sees—a wilted bud all along.


ii. the moon is one of those things that looks beautiful only from a certain angle, you say. and yes, i swallow broken english like stardust & choke on my own mother tongue, drown myself in the cosmos of the star spangled banner—this place has so much longing. but the moon! america you are blinded by 白月光, the warm milky glow of foreign complexion—and it’s like, you’re kind of pretty, you know that? but in an exotic way. you forget that the moon only shines under the cruel mercy of the sun. i have recurring dreams of someone planting a flag on the moon and calling it unearthly theirs, and it’s like, do you believe in otherworldly life? i wish i didn’t.


iii. i once gazed at 海月水母, moon jellyfish, for a moment too long because i thought i saw myself trapped behind the aquarium glass. i watched you gaze curiously for a mere instant, through the glass tinted an ethereal milky-way purple—a spectacle all along. and it’s like, remember 1991? moon jellyfish born in space were taken to earth, only to find that they couldn’t swim in earth’s gravity—scientists decided they might never be able to live on this planet like their earth-born counterparts. remember the moon jellyfish, their dizziness in this stranger of a place? america you called them astro-jellies—beautiful, exotic, but not belonging to this world.

About the Author

Kayleigh Sim is a Southeast Asian writer living in San Diego, California, and is currently a Senior Editor for Polyphony Lit. Kayleigh is a rising high school senior and will graduate in 2022. She is especially in love with flowers, the moon, and the stars. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Trouvaille Review, Cathartic Lit, Intersections Magazine, Poetically Magazine, and elsewhere.