She blinks, tilts her head, speaks.
You are on mute, I say, squinting
To read the poster on her wall.
No… She mimes. A concert in a park
Or an art exhibit, something freshly
Out of reach. It’s your headphones.
She’s almost always right.
This is not a routine meeting.
A paragraph went missing, she says.
She had her baby on her lap, maybe
That was why the words got dropped.
She knows it has been fixed and still
She can’t stop crying. I thought I had…
The baby isn’t sleeping.
And we are not machines. We just
Live in them. Alone, together, alone.
She wonders if she can do her job.
We are navigating a night
That hides the stars, and sometimes
She forgets that she is brilliant. …
The lake matches the sky.
It’s been like this for weeks.
A mirrored wall of grey
Erasing the horizon
The days have no hours.
We don’t have much to say.
Even the water has finished
Moaning, or else the snow
Has muted its whale songs
And we are none the wiser.
Still. I am listless as a kid waking
On the morning after the prom
Everyone else attended. Waiting
To see what has changed
And what is out of reach.
The ice won’t hold us yet, nor
Send a note to say, It’s safe now
To cross. …
When the child returned, they
Did not ask where she had been.
What difference did it make?
She was safe, in time for dinner.
They sat down to stew, without anger.
Hiding in the Yew bush,
She would have said, among needles
That tickled her hair and fire ants
That bit their way up her legs
As if she was delicious.
She honed the art of disappearing.
They knew she yearned to be missed
And so, artfully, they refrained
From looking. (In this game,
Every piece needs breaking).
She learned to be un-lost, alone.
In secret places, she built walls
With words of sand and
glass, stronger than the stones
By then no one was throwing. …
Grade six was the year of creating depth on paper,
Where distance was a matter of bigness.
Our world was the size of a basketball court and two
Halls, where we mastered pant stains and cliques.
Using only a pencil, make something appear far away.
Rachel drew a highway that narrowed to a point
And a line of trees that dwindled to a horizon
That only she could see. Yes! That. Is perspective.
I hated her. My front yard tree impaled the house
That sat on top of it like an unholy angel. …
I forgot how to strike a match.
Instinct bailed. My hands shook.
One match head smeared across
The crushed glass strip
And popped off.
One lit, then died.
Two snapped without igniting.
Some things are not meant to move slowly.
I dream of fires…
© Peggy Moss
Thank you, Tre L. Loadholt for the prompt.
Add quarantine to the list of things
We begrudge and give thanks for —
With the break-up that spared me
From a flaccid marriage and
The roadside skunk I hit
When I was drifting off to sleep…
The nightmare I wanted to weather with you.
© Peggy Moss
Thank you, Tre L. Loadholt for the challenge.
Julio’s hand slipped
While he was painting
The clouds. They say
That’s how Dambulla
Wound up with rain.
He drags his palm
Across the sky and makes
A lot of little showers like that.
Even where the sun
Cloud wander off
— And dissipate.
Julio says he always
Gets his clouds back.
He watches a horsetail
Drift over a farmhouse
Wood shingled, proud.
Perched in a meadow and
Glowing inside. Daisies
Grow wild, up to the door.
Julio puts up
His feet. Smokes.
By the time
He finds those clouds
In a gallery
In western Ohio. …
We didn’t set your place at the table
Or mash a spoon into a mound
Of potatoes and fill the pond
With gravy, thinking you’d come back.
We didn’t shout, “Go long!” to the kid
Who always took your bait, sprinting
To the end zone to watch your pass
Sail into the arms of a more reliable catch.
You were always tricky like that.
Some years, it’s your birthday, too.
It’s the turkey that moves, you once told me.
Any fourth Thursday will do . . . but not for you.
JFK died on your day, C.S. Lewis, too.
You never liked sharing. …