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To Touch the Moon

To Touch the Moon

We wanted to touch the moon, bobbing
  that flashbulb on the heat-glazed pane of Smith
Lake.  So we dove fully-clothed from the dock,
  paddling slowly that body of water as chorus frogs
and crickets boomed back and forth
  from the reed-thick shore.  There, at the lake’s
near center, we embraced that back-filled
  halo in our circle of hands.  There,
treading water, Mary cupped her palms beneath
  that beacon, lifted them to my lips
and said Drink…  And what could I do but watch
  when she side-stepped buoyancy
and dove beneath the moon, dropping easily
  through zones of cold and colder water, the frog-
slick star-vines and hydrilla swaying heavily
  in the drifts, her hair held suspended
by the water’s hundred hands?  What I want
  is to go back to the moon’s conception
when it first broke free of the earth and flew that first
  tethered orbit around the hemispheres.  
What I want is to take you into a field
  and tell the Jade Rabbit’s story, finger its outline
from the ridgelines and craters, that hare
  working herbs in an urn for the immortals.  
I want you to see that moon returned to its rightful
  station overhead, Mary making small motions
with her hands to keep from rising, everything  
  slightly pearled.  But I couldn’t tell you
how long we held our breaths.  Couldn’t tell you
  how reluctant that lake to let her go, thick
ribbons of reeds unraveling painfully from about
  her ankles— Mary surfacing so slowly
it was as if she were ascending not water
  but sky, Mary slipping into the moon,
backlit against darkness.

Grist, Spring 2010

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