“Moon over,” Brad Leithauser

Scuba divers will sometimes drown
within a night sea
after confusing up and down.

It seems so basic — up/down — and yet,
immersed in a black neutral buoyancy,
the world’s boundaries all wet,

a person may mislay his only meaningful
compass — the heart in his head —
and mistake Earth’s centripetal pull

for that other mustering of gravity:
a firmament widespread
with stars, over a wind blowing free.


But the figure — the tiny figure floundering,
lost, in an unlit sea… He’s trapped
like a sleeper trapped in a raw, tightening

nightmare, who knows he knows a way out of here
though he keeps forgetting
the key.
How do we wake? How do we clear

the borne mind of its body and arrive —
gasping, half gone, not gone —
on the surface’s groundless shore, not just alive

but secure in the moon’s artful netting,
whose catch tonight may be one of those rapt
souls that thinks to see another dawn?

“Twelve Moons,” Bonnie Billet


Another year disappears
like a flat stone skidding over ice.
There are things I don’t wish to look back on.
New year’s day lies in the fields
covered by snow. I have yellow boots
and thermal longjohns
for walking out the cold. My resolutions
are simple.


I’m satisfied with nothing.
The cold continues today
and tomorrow. My resolutions fail
for reasons I don’t face
in a wind that runs through trees
like a comb. In the woods
the deer browse the red maple
and sweet-smelling cedar. In the village
they talk of snow.


The earth is raw. The moon eats
the wet field. Crocus come, up like teeth
biting the wind. My brother’s death was an accident.
We’re forced to stop sleeping
and begin again.


Tulips weigh the air
with color. The magnolia uses the contrast.
We’ve lived together for years
from one place to another
learning compromise. This place is new.
Coming home, our steps
hard on the first green shoots
stumble in the same direction.


I curled in the wet
until my mother gave me up
to the light. She had nervous hands
and lived in dark rooms.
I was fed pablum
until my legs were rolls of fat
and I cried until I spoke my first word:


On my knees in the garden, I weed
and pick off the dead flowers.
With a pitch fork I turn
and turn the compost heap.
I walk everywhere with pruning shears
and can’t keep my hands out of the loam.
A flower is an event.
Friends fade.


I rock to sleep
under the thunder. Wake me,
I can’t break the dream.
I lie between lighthouses
my lips tasting of fish.
I can’t move, but must listen to the gulls’
quick, cracking calls.


We fight.
He wants to be alone and goes for a walk
by the river. I follow
and find asolitary hummingbird
nesting in the hemlocks.
I’m willing to leave
but it’s too hot to pack.
Sitting at home
I wait for one last word from him.


The neighbors’ screaming starts.
Minutes later, I sit up at the sound
of fists. Men seem eager for blood
after Harvest. The windows are broken
from the inside. Yellow jackets
find their way into the kitchen.


Tree by tree turns bright or dull
in the air, then strips to the twig.
What can be done with hard October fruit?
I hear the crack of the axe ripple
and the cold weather sending the sap
into the roots. Alone
I study the subtlety ofbark.


My sister distrustshe moon,
she says, staring into its light
can make you blind, her sources
are scientific. When I climb into the sugar maple
for a better view
she worries. Fifty-five fet up
the moon is exactly the same.
I put my faith in the rope
and descend from the highest branch
burning my hands.


A marathon of nights
races toward the winter solstice.
I burn brush in the hills,
the only woman on the crew.
With a pint of gasoline and dry kindling
I can burn anything.
After lunch we stop feeding the fires.
At 3 we cover the ashes and by 4:30
the ashes are cold.

“Facts About the Moon,” Dorianne Laux

The moon is backing away from us
an inch and a half each year. That means
if you’re like me and were born
around fifty years ago the moon
was a full six feet closer to the earth.
What’s a person supposed to do?
I feel the gray cloud of consternation
travel across my face. I begin thinking
about the moon-lit past, how if you go back
far enough you can imagine the breathtaking
hugeness of the moon, prehistoric
solar eclipses when the moon covered the sun
so completely there was no corona, only
a darkness we had no word for.
And future eclipses will look like this: the moon
a small black pupil in the eye of the sun.
But these are bald facts.
What bothers me most is that someday
the moon will spiral right out of orbit
and all land-based life will die.
The moon keeps the oceans from swallowing
the shores, keeps the electromagnetic fields
in check at the polar ends of the earth.
And please don’t tell me
what I already know, that it won’t happen
for a long time. I don’t care. I’m afraid
of what will happen to the moon.
Forget us. We don’t deserve the moon.
Maybe we once did but not now
after all we’ve done. These nights
I harbor a secret pity for the moon, rolling
around alone in space without
her milky planet, her only love, a mother
who’s lost a child, a bad child,
a greedy child or maybe a grown boy
who’s murdered and raped, a mother
can’t help it, she loves that boy
anyway, and in spite of herself
she misses him, and if you sit beside her
on the padded hospital bench
outside the door to his room you can’t not
take her hand, listen to her while she
weeps, telling you how sweet he was,
how blue his eyes, and you know she’s only
romanticizing, that she’s conveniently
forgotten the bruises and booze,
the stolen car, the day he ripped
the phones from the walls, and you want
to slap her back to sanity, remind her
of the truth: he was a leech, a fuckup,
a little shit, and you almost do
until she lifts her pale puffy face, her eyes
two craters, and then you can’t help it
either, you know love when you see it,
you can feel its lunar strength, its brutal pull.