What if it were true
that the moon is grandmother
to all of the stars, and has to listen,
each night, softly, as women
do, to all of their stories of day ache.
What if it were true that the moon watches
over the cemeteries of planets that slept
too long and fizzled into history. And now,
the moon has to explain to the gathering dust
of almost stars, that they can’t just hide
their plump little faces, and that life
is a cycle. You’re born. You die, and no,
you can’t just skip it. You have to learn
to hold your breath, and wait it out, the moon
says shaking her head, just the way I do
each morning when I fade
into the whitening sky.
When I Think About Jake
I think of him drop-kicked across the couch,
Freshman dorm. Him coming back from a mixer
where the punch was spun with vodka. He’d
sleep it off, and when he woke, we’d talk to him
for hours, me and Julie, whose baby would end up
having Jake’s eyes. Julie would say that Jake’s a goof
and everyone knows it, but that didn’t stop love from
smacking her in the heart. I wanted to warn her, but
didn’t, and six months later, Jake was needle-
dead. Julie would sleep in the scoop on the couch where
Jake had flopped himself so many times. By now, her belly
had swollen into a face. When she tossed and turned,
I could hear her dreams where Jake had his ropey arms
around her, swinging her dosey-doe, the spin of it
getting her passion-drunk. When she woke up, she would
shake her head, throw words like shame and potential
into the air, let them sail like a football and splat to the floor.
Now, she calls out of nowhere. Twentieth reunion, and do
I want to go? We haven’t talked in forever, and she texts
me a photo of her son, grown now, with Jake’s gangly arms,
only trackless. I think how sometimes the past can be fun,
Only not when it’s a sick I finally got cured of. Not when
the echoes of what I should have told her, and told her again
if she didn’t hear it the first time. Walk away from it, another
echo is saying, only this time it’s for me. It’s for Julie.
And even, in a way, for Jake, whose ghost still hovers
above us all, an invisible hand ready to press itself down.
Francine Witte is the author of four poetry chapbooks, two flash fiction chapbooks, and the full-length poetry collections Café Crazy (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books) Her play, Love is a Bad Neighborhood, was produced in NYC this past December. She lives in NYC.