Lady Moon Remembers and Mourns: 5 Songs

BY JOHN BARRALE

1.

Somewhere, deep in time's memory,
the moon still swirls
over malignant swamps
     and choke forests
     of fern

where giant birds of prey screech
and beasts now extinct quicken
rising again at dusk to hunt—

the lame
and the slow
caught
     and by fierce jaws
taken up.

The air gray, always gray,
     the time before Eden,
mostly fog
and rain,

every night rain,
     rain
before dawn.

2.

Much later, there are ships. Adventure.

To see them is like seeing once more
the beginning of the world.

Hearts, young hearts,
     like sea flowers,
blossom,
     seek glory.

Jason steals the Golden Fleece.

Troy falls, a mighty roaring hymn
that breaks her heart,
and Ulysses
sails beyond the Gates of Hercules
a moonstone for luck
     sewn in his cloak.

3.

Lady moon remembers the names
     of the Scottish kings
     who gave her
their captives'
heads,

and the swoop and fell
of the highlands she guarded

where crones
     with broken teeth
and wild bracken hair
in secret
sang moon prayers.
She gorges,
     swallows again every detail,
every spear raised in triumph,
every dog tribe
and wolf pack's
howl.

She was magic, the stick
     and stone shrine
in the glen,
     and the circle of pebbles
in front of the hut.

Witches danced to her moods,
and silken-haired maids
prayed their first cycle came in her fullness,
     her light cast like a spell
on the fields where they lay,

a leering assurance of husbands
     and fertile wombs.

4.

Lady moon, now a Pop Icon
     and a Rock Star,
still accepts the thanks of lovers,
     and the moon-light inspired chirps
of crickets—
enchanting creatures, her favorites;

     something she would paint
upon a lacquered fan
     if she could.

5.

Lady Moon wants to be
     the dun-colored continent
she was
before being torn from her mother,
     the earth.

Bird-like beasts loped into flight
     from her plains
and caught fish
skimming her lakes,
their enormous leathery wings
     opening like sails.

She hears their cries in the wind,
remembers what was lost
     when she sees a gull fly.

How sad, she thinks,
to never feel the rain,
and watch ships pass,

ships with sails once new and tan
before the sun, and time
     bleached
their color.

Only with age do sails
     and gulls
     and moons
turn white.

Now, resigned, she illuminates the small.

A poet, she loves to touch a tree's branches,
     make whisper the shapes of stones,
and cast shadows on the lines jungle ants make
     when by her light they travel.

Tonight she feels thin and lonely, dim
against the brightness of the cities.

     Like a giant hand,
she hangs from the sky's sleeve,
her fingers
     opening and closing.

So I begin. So I end,
she thinks.

And who but God
could cut my claws,
and only then,
with the edge of the sun.


Artwork: Mariana Palova