The moon asked the sun, “What do you know of love?”
“It burns,” said the sun. “It brightens. It is something you make and then give away.”
“Don’t listen to him,” said the clouds. “This big ball of gas doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“Yes, I do,” said the sun. “Who but me makes the roses grow?”
“We do,” said the clouds. “Love nourishes, like the rain. We turn the hills green and fill the creeks so they will sing in their creekbeds.”
“Why do you ask?” said the sun.
“I think I might be in love,” said the moon. “I am trying to understand.”
So the moon went and looked at the deserts. They were dry and hot and empty. “See?” said the clouds. But the deserts were still beautiful.
And so the moon went and looked at the creeks in their beds, and they were cool and wet and full. And they were beautiful too.
“What do you think?” the moon asked the sky. “I want to know if I am in love.”
“Ask the earth,” said the sky, and so the moon asked the earth.
“The clouds cover me,” said the earth. “They make me bloom. The sun warms me. Without them I would be cold and dry.”
“You would be ugly without them. That is love?”
“I would be cold and dry,” said the earth, “but not ugly. You are cold and dry, my little one, and you are beautiful.”
“Not like you,” said the moon. “Not like the ocean.”
“No one is like me. No one is like you,” said the earth.
“I feel loveliest when she holds my light,” said the moon.
“Who is it that you love, my child? What kind of love do you wish?”
“Are there different kinds?” the moon asked.
“The sun warms me and pulls me in. The clouds cover me, when they remember. The sky turns every color for me. How do you and yours love?”
“We dance,” said the moon, and they knew she meant the ocean. “I push and she pulls. I rise and set, she rises and ebbs. She pushes, I pull. We go around and around and I watch her tides and I do not think I will ever tire of calling her beautiful. Is that love?”
“It is only your own reflection you see on the ocean’s surface,” scoffed the clouds. “It is like when the sun sets, and calls us beautiful, but it is only his own colors he loves.”
“I love her even when I shine no light,” said the moon. “Maybe I love her most then.”
“You only love her because she follows where you lead,” said the sun.
“It is a dance,” said the moon.
“It is self-centered,” said the clouds. “Bossy. Mean.”
“She is the heart of my orbit,” said the moon. “I will live my life by her until she is gas and I am dust and the universe is cold and dead.”
And the sun and the clouds were quiet and went away, and the stars came out from where they had been listening.
“Is this love?” said the moon.
“You are not asking the right people,” said the stars.
“I have asked the sun, who burns,” said the moon. “I have asked the clouds, who cover. I have asked the sky, who stays forever. I have asked the earth, who made me.”
“But have you asked the ocean, who loves you?” said the stars.
“Oh,” said the moon.
And so the moon went down to the ocean and asked, “Is this love?”
And the ocean said, “Yes.”