Invention of the Moon
By the Sea of Crisis, I lay out my thin towel. Behind me,
the bright roiling city, the stands selling beer and coconuts.
Women in white dresses kneel to wash the church steps.
Carnaval music pulses from the speakers. The beat is blunt
as the dull knife a drunk
plunges into another’s ribcage.
But the ocean’s grace notes–mordent, descending
appogiatura–pull me under.
Sea of Nectar. Sea of the Edge. This is how the days
repeat themselves, rolling over. Life, as someone said
of the Bach Inventions, is “clearly impossible to execute
at any reasonable tempo.”
This is the year I don’t sleep, but instead follow the moon’s light-
suffused motif–augmentation, diminution.
The Mare Desiderii,
the Sea of Dreams, was long ago declared a fallacy.
I pick up the easy badinage, the greetings
and the curses. But for my youngest
son, it’s all he has. He points at the waxing gibbous
The storms that hit South Florida
are brief. Sudden flash
of clarity in the unstable
air. The only perfect memory,
the neuroscientists say, is the one
not accessed. Thus her life
perfects itself in the tousled
cool air and rain
to Earth. Every afternoon
she looks out the window
and sighs, It’s been so long
since it last rained.
Entire walls are made of glass.
The table is glass. The clocks
are glass. Finally we have succeeded
in making time
The tongue sandwich
on rye hovers
Who does he look like?
my grandmother asks, pinching
my son’s cheek.
Who does he look like?
Every year a billion birds die
flying into windows.
Think about their skills at flying
through tree branches and leaves.
Think how easy it is
to mistake one thing
Agua de Beber
Eu quis amar mais tive medo–
When my little ones were sick with fever,
and would drink only the sweet, cloudy
water from coconuts, Dete stood in the kitchen
with a machete and hacked them
open. Santa Clara, patron saint
of the local aquifer, where now
Monsanto washes runoff
over the permeable
rock–is this how it feels?
When the baby wouldn’t take
even the milk I’d spun
from sunlight and black coffee, filtered
through my own good blood?
To calm myself, I palmed the cracked
green globe. When Dete was young
in the countryside, she said,
there were no doctors. Children died
from such simple things.
Meu interior, she called it, or equally,
a fora: the exterior. She scooped the quivering,
translucent flesh from the hard shell.
Eleanor Stanford is the author of The Book of Sleep (2008) and Bartram’s Garden (2015), both from Carnegie Mellon University Press, and a memoir, História, História: Two Years in the Cape Verde Islands (Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, 2013). She lives in the Philadelphia area.