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  • The Moon (I)

     

    “Hallo JennaMarie,”

    My grandma’s red nose,

    a fresh perm and dye,

    shoulders that lift

    when she stands her ground.

     

    “Jes callin’ to tell ya

    ta go look at the moon.”

    It’s been fifteen years since

    she introduced me to madness.

    Grandma sang Elvis when she drank,

    and then she cried beer tears

    on Alabama piano keys.

     

    “Okay grandma, let me put my shoes on.

    Leaving the apartment. Gotta go to the west wall.”

    Beer tears are hot, you see.

    They burn as they fall, like rain in the 7th circle of Hell.

    I saw them burning in her when

    she grabbed my mamma’s throat,

    skin bulging between piano fingers.

     

    “See how beautiful it is?

    So full and bright up there

    JennaMarie. JennaMarie?”

    Mamma’s face blue as her eyes,

    body lifted above her wheelchair,

    hands clawing at hands.

     

    “Yes, Grandma?”

    I held my holey Grandma Bear on the couch,

    watching the face of madness burn

    as my mamma hung in her mamma’s hands,

    and I was too scared to pray.

     

    “This always makes me feel

    closer to you. Hugs and kisses.”

    “Hugs and kisses. Love you grandma.”

    I’m the only one who

    looks at the moon with her now.

     

     

    ♦ ♦ ♦

    Motherchild

     

    Today we bring you home from

    hospitalhell bundled in blankets.

    I turn off cartoons

    put my toys away

    make some dinner (just in case)

    stand at the doorway, thin arms trembling

    as you roll to your bedroom

    in a medicated yellowwhite haze

    and do not see my new salvation army shoes.

     

    You call my name, so I help you in bed

    brush the hair from your eyes

    kiss your forehead.

    I wonder who’s tucking my brother in tonight

    who’s wiping his angry tears away

    and you, sleeptites in your eyes,

    don’t ask me where he is.

     

    At four o’clock we change your diaper.

    I empty the pee jug by your bed

    and try not to splatter on my shoes.

    I heat your food

    feed it to you with a small spoon

    wipe the dribble from your chin.

    I heard a lullaby on the Saturday cartoons

    so I sing it to you as you drift.

     

    Do you hear me where you are?

    Can you feel the warmth of my unformed breasts

    as I tuck my body to your side,

    holding my breath so it won’t wake you.

    Do you sense my small hand on your stomach

    pushing in

    letting out

    pushing in.

     

    Tomorrow we will take you

    back to the hospital

    and when you can think no more,

    they will ask for my consent

    to end your pain,

    and I may be haunted

    by the flat tone_____________________________

     
    ♦ ♦ ♦

    To the Men and Women in the 3rd Ring of the 7th Circle of Hell

     

    Fire so hot it’s blue falls in teardrops

    from a cavern above your heads.

    Can I say I understand

    why you walk naked beneath

    dripping flames for this—

    for the one whose hand holds yours

    despite screaming nerves, flaking skin.

    A single drop falls on your reddened cheek

    and a tear hidden there hisses.
     

    Don’t look at me with your sallow eyes

    lest I see myself in your face.

    See your naked thighs and belly

    black and red, bone and sinew

    my flesh turned to mirrors.
     

    Will I burn like you for holding my lover’s hand

    and kissing the nape of her neck?

    Maybe my God loves me more than yours did,

    but when I sleep and let Fear near my bed

    he strokes my hair with a clawed hand

    and cries blue fire on my breasts.

    About The Author

    Jennifer Wolfe Head Shot

    Jennifer Wolfe

    Jennifer Wolfe was born in Virginia where she spent most of her childhood. She moved to Idaho at age thirteen and received her Masters from Eastern Washington University. Her poems have appeared in The Talking River Review and are forthcoming in Abramelin. She lives with her partner and two cats in Minnesota. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing and playing Zelda.  Learn more about Jennifer in publisher, bill berry’s interview, “Conversation with Jennifer Wolfe.”  http://aaduna.org/fallwinter2014/conversations/conversation-with-jennifer-wolfe/