Recently, I began babysitting a five-year-old. It’s made me realize two things: I could never be a parent to a five-year-old, and I wish I had the imagination of a five-year-old. Both of these realizations can be traced back to their boundless imagination. While I was carrying them back upstairs (“I’m a monster with big, sharp teeth, and you have to put me back in my bed!”), their growls and giggles made me think of a story in Two Moons, where a young girl falls in love with the Moon. Wrapping my head around the story had been difficult — I’ve never been great with magical realism that leans hard into surrealism. How can the Moon, a celestial body, come close to our planet without disrupting the delicate balance of gravity? How does the Moon talk to distant stars without years of lag due to distance? I take it all too seriously.
Krystal A. Smith has done something amazing with her debut story collection. The Black lesbians in Two Moons find love in orbit, birth goddesses among tree roots, and turn death into life. Some of them made me feel like my realist brain was being turned inside out — how can you just take your heart out and let him run around, bleeding everywhere? But Smith’s characters, the magic they find in themselves and in their loves, the hardships they endure, drew me in and filled me up until there was no more room for confusion. This was perhaps the first time I’ve ever seen so much Black lesbian joy — hell, any real depth of Black lesbian emotional identity — in speculative fiction.
These stories range from just a couple pages long to more traditional short story length. It made for a pleasant reading experience, though I also wish some of the really compelling ones had been longer. My favorite may have been “What the Heart Wants,” where a woman decides to part ways with her heart after losing another lover to her own obsessive nature. The heart, however, refuses to leave without reminding her of just how much she is truly worth. As a person on the ace spectrum, I always feel particularly seen in stories of Black, queer femmes whose narratives decenter romantic relationships. That’s not to say the others are all about romance, though: Smith addresses everything from motherhood to death to fitting in, all through the lens of Black queerness. As a result, I felt like this work hit me in a way few have. Our very existence places us in the margins, where we find our own ways to spread our roots and turn toward the stars.