When the Chamber Is Filled with the Moon

The worth of a penny tucked
under the girth of a fallen leaf
is not enough to raise the dead
from beneath their desks,

                                    is not enough to keep
                        ourselves from tapping on their
                        windows hi, hello, just checking in
                        — the moon is not the moon.

In the middle of the day
                when the moon stands up

            we stand up, too— we stand stark naked
            & start noticing owls landing
            on rock walls, notice children
            in absence, & with flowers

in our arms we feel obliged
to bless the dead with tears & pollen.
We feel obliged to touch our faces
to the ground & breathe in 

because lungs
need reminding
that the earth is made of dirt
among other things,

     like dancers.

            & like dancers we swim
            from news cast to news cast
            in bathtubs filled to brim
            with blue paint.

                        We bathe in the blue paint
            for days without emerging. For days
                  our televisions will not stop
                        pointing toward the moon

   uncoiling from the ground like a snake.
            In our bathtubs, we paint our bodies
because we are scared for the dead,

                        we are scared they have stopped
                        dancing.

                                        The television says,
                        they are afraid of the gun’s chamber.

 

The television says,
            the gun’s chamber is filled
to the brim, like a bathtub, with the red moon.

                                    The television says,
                        we should always fear the dead,
                        we should always fear the hand
                        that filled the chamber with the moon.
 

                But the moon has already risen with its lyre
& the dead dance just fine.

 

First published in Heavy Feather Review