One time the Moon was walking
deep in thought among the trees at night,
hands clasped at the tail of his coat,
head bowed and frowning. You see,
the girl's father had decreed that people
should not know anymore why they exist,
or what their purpose is on earth.
Such knowledge is dangerous, he said.
So Earth was commanded to fashion dreams
deep inside her to replace this knowledge,
and the Moon was commanded to deliver them.
He wondered why people should be made to suffer.
It hurt him and touched the apple of his eye
and now he carries out the old man's
injunction with a heavy heart, plodding
in a black carriage over bad roads from
house to lonely house forever, hating
his job and all the gutless gods, waiting
at your window in bare feet, hat in hand,
in the small hours. Hello, he says. Hello.
* * *
THE MOON'S BROTHER
One time the Moon saw Death gone
walking through the rain. Hello, Brother, the Moon said,
Our grandmother would like to hear from you
some time. But Death just
blinked his one good eye and whistled on, picking
crocuses for his dusky bouquet. O Death,
the Moon said, it's unseemly to nurse this affected
grievance as though the world
had wronged you, when we all know it's you who
haunts the roads at night with a rusty
sword and all your foulmouthed friends, ambushing
the solitary coaches and shearing the women's hair and
forcing the children to haul the loot to your
hideout in the royal forest…
But none of that was true, it was all a lie. In fact, Death
has a polished sword and
he doesn't have any friends at all.
It's the Moon who appears without a word, always
when you're thinking of something else, blue robes
glissading down the mountainsides,
very much alive though he's been away so long
it takes a moment to put a name to the face,
and you just can't imagine where the time has gone.
* * *
Mostly cloudy, a threat of showers.
Copse, cattail marsh, flooded meadow, country that
tree swallows and certain species of warbler prefer.
No wailing, no pain, but a type of anxiety that makes you
sleep with your boots on. The ineffable agency of gloom
presides there as it does in slovakian forests.
High above, two hawks tell the hours.
Love will glide by on a barge sunday mornings
attended by the blackrobed queens of albion.
We thread fireflies
to festoon the trees along the bank and she waves and sings
in a pitch a touch too high to hear.
Sisyphus leans against his stone to listen.
Poor Hector, bloody and armless, shuts his eyes.
Saint Patrick visited and lived to tell about it.
And Theseus and Enkidu. And that girl
we went to school with.
On the playground, the fat snowflakes in her dark hair
shimmered like mercury as they melted.
In those days, she went about as though she had learned
from a little bird that god had ceased to dream her, and she
said that if you want to do it right, you have to
cut along, not across the tendon.
How did she know, shut away from the sun, shut away
from birdsong and the stars of omen, how did she know
when to start for home?
* * *
GOOD NIGHT, MOON
So it was about, not you, but us all along. I see that now.
As I sat at the diner counter tonight reading
of the wars that can't touch you anymore, I
saw you husbanding winter in a heavy coat, wandering
the thirsty places of the streets. By now, I suppose, you've
learned the common latin of broken people
and who can say anymore who's sane?
Exile is not the worst fate of all. The rain
rains and the sun shines equally on us all. In the end,
it seems, god's sentence was for you the beginning
of a kindness, and an eternal shame on all who denied you.
I was surprised to learn that you were mad, Moon, you
who shares your meager blanket with any lonely stranger, who
would give your coat to an enemy, you whose horizon
is demarcated by howling dogs, you poor and blind,
the silence of space like knots of hot wire in your ears
while here on earth, the birds you love so well
no longer have the heart to sing here
it is it is.
Here it is it is.
* * *
THE END OF THE WORLD
We'll beat stones on the earth and demand
counsel from the dead but the dead
will have counseled among themselves and fled.
Drawings will be executed anonymously
in the night depicting hunters stalking bison under
multiple blazing suns, and
our final days will be spent
despairing of His lovingkindness, mulling
our betrayal by stars grown cold to whom
we gave such tender names. Do you remember
the games in the garden, when He pretended to be a bear,
and we pretended to be afraid?