Minnie Bruce Pratt

The Moon, Reading

The moon looks in our bedroom window at us
sometimes. As I lie down beside you she pulls
a silvery sheet over us, and then retreats
to her night-time reading, east to west.
Night after night that bright gaze moves over
us lying under the comfort of being watched over.

The round illuminated magnifying glass
in Mama’s hand as she passed into dementia
and understood less and less, her anxious eyes
reading the same line over and over. The moon
that shone in my window when I was little and
supposed to have religion, so I knelt and prayed
to that light, because she looked back at me.

Everything earthly and imperfect changes
under the moon. In this moment beside you
I am perfectly happy, lying in the moon light,
drifting slowly with you into illegible sleep.

The Place Lost and Gone, the Place Found

One low yellow light, the back room a cave,
musty sleeping bags, us huddled on the floor.
We pretend we’re camped somewhere with no calendar,
distant from morning when I will leave and leave
them motherless children again.   The oldest travels
into sleep, holds my hand while I listen, left,
to a huge wind come up in my hollow ears, my breath,
pain, and me asking:   What are we besides this pain,
this frail momentary clasp?
                                        At the window next day
the face of the youngest stiff with grief, and at my desk
beside me years after, his face, clear, fixed,
like a photo set in a paperweight, crystal heavy pain.
Pick it up, unable to put it down.
                                             Yet woven,
still twined in my hand, his sinewy fingers like twigs
in the tree we climbed the first day:
                                                      As soon as I jumped
from the car and hugged them, each a small oomph,
they rushed me to climb their tree, maple in the jumbled
wild green strip of land between houses and lawns,
up, feet there, there’s the nest, rumpled,
suspended.   They long for the hidden bird.   We talk
about what I can’t remember, nothing but words.   We drop
seeds into light, translucent silent whirligigs,
better than copters, they say, and gently rock
the branch I sit on with their long scratched legs.

They have asked me into their tree and, satisfied,
we sit rather large in its airy room.   Their house
slides away across the lawn to the edge.   Now
we are in the middle.   Now they show me the inside.
If I see a small grass motion, it’s probably voles.
That muddy excavation will be dug bigger, longer,
for a cave, for a hideout with a tin roof.   And all
paths, distinct or vague in the rank weeds, go
places.   The oldest leads me to his, a pond
sunk, hedged, and forgotten.   No one else comes.
He watches in the morning (silver), in the evening (gold).
For what?   For the birds, to be the one who sees
and takes the bird away, but only with his eyes.
The youngest boy takes me to the smallest creek.
We see the crawfish towers squiggled in the mud.
We see dim passageways down to hidden creatures,
mysteries.   We follow scarce water under a road
into sun.   They show me jewelweed, touch-me-not,
dangling red-orange tiny ears, and the brown pods,
how seed rattles and springs and scatters if you fling
out your hand, even carelessly.    They show me everything,
saying, with no words, they have thought of me here,
and here I am with them in the in-between places.

Minnie Bruce Pratt
Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010

Minnie Bruce Pratt is posting poetry regularly on the web in her “Daily Drafts” on Facebook Notes and at mbpdailydrafts.blogspot.com. Most recently she has completed her forthcoming Inside the Money Machine with Nothing to Lose, poems about surviving under capitalism. Her selected poems, The Dirt She Ate, received a Lambda Literary Award. Some of her previous books include the poems of Walking Back Up Depot Street, the gender-boundary-crossing S/HE, and the award-winning Crime Against Nature. Reach her