(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Old Qfwfq recalls past times when he and his companions rowed out on the sea every month and climbed up to the moon. This was an enchanted time. Only for a short while, somewhere near the beginning of time as humans know it, did the moon orbit close enough to the earth for the group to climb up ladders from their rowboats and reach it.

The first half of the story tells about these moon visits in general, describing vividly the routine: The group would row the boats out to the place where the moon came closest to the earth, some would hold up ladders, and others would scurry up the ladders and grab onto the moon. The purpose of the visits was to gather moon milk, a cream-cheese-like substance composed of such ingredients as “vegetal juices, tadpoles, bitumen, lentils, honey, starch crystals, sturgeon eggs, molds [and] pollens.” Because the gravitational pull of the moon was strong, the moon milk had to be hurled off spoons into the sea, where it was collected, and the group had to jump as high as they could to escape the moon’s force so that they too would drop back into the sea or be caught by one of the boat’s occupants.

The Deaf One, Qfwfq’s cousin, loved the moon. Normally a solitary soul, he relished the monthly trips to the moon and was the most enthusiastic and adept at reaching it, retrieving milk, and returning. Qfwfq, who was usually with his cousin on the moon, most relished each return, when he reconnected with safety by...

(The entire section is 546 words.)