|Apr/May 2009 Poetry|
Friday, 7 a.m., and the moon sets west. A white orb so clear and clean, lit by a sun that's still below the earth's curve, I swim its blue ridges and white seas. A harvest moon long after the harvest is done. Beyond, a storm gathers hopeful near the coast, but here the sky is blue, lighting toward morning, and a day I will try to contain within its hours. The moon falls and atop St. Paul's tower the Christmas tree of lights disappears into the day. The twelfth day of the twelfth month, I want the pull of its tides and currents. They say the universe is constantly expanding, but never into what. I see only a moon that holds me steady. So even as I fall away I'm coming back again.
August 6, 1945
My mother, on the cusp
of fourteen and puberty,
celebrates her birthday with
girlfriends and ice cream sundaes.
My father, twenty-four, has
his orders for China, a pilot
who teaches boys to fly—
not much beyond boy himself.
He drinks to forget how many
won't come home; invading
Japan, he believes he will be one of them.
My mother still wears her hair in braids
that summer in Oklahoma, a half
continent away from Whidbey Island.
Across an ocean two cousins were
killed by Germans. Her cake, frosted chocolate,
all fourteen candles lit. She makes a wish.
My father on the edge of his bed,
flight bag packed, leather jacket zipped
against the damp Northwest summer.
He hears the news first on the radio.
In Oklahoma and Washington, the war
will be over in days.
My mother will grow up,
my father will live. Both newly divorced,
they will meet in seventeen years
on my mother's birthday; in
Houston, they will dance
through a humid night,
eat eggs scrambled at dawn.
The earth does not pause in its
rotation around itself.
My mother blows out the candles.