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    How can you be the same moon I knew
   in Missouri, flushed by prairie fires, a marble
   flicked down my gravel drive; as the
   sea-worn Florida moon who eavesdropped
   above the island Blue Parrot Cafe, anemic
   face spiked with palm fronds; as the moon
   smudged by fog over the hills in Tennessee,
   the center of a tongue yellowed as though
   from whiskey sours; same as the Ohio
   moon who first taught me to say its name?
   Each night, carried to the patio, I'd startle
   or I wouldn't--you come and go, require
   my earliest wreck of faith. Barely late
   afternoon, shadows measure the canyon
   in lavender. Winter means little to a desert,
   still you rise like an arm-swung lantern,
   bright as a knot of snow. Was it only half
   a year ago you couldn't find me sleepless
   and sweaty, my heart flitting a rented room?
   Restless, I crossed the street one evening
   to celebrate the anniversary of a lakeside bar
   I hadn't visited before. Hippies and I danced
   in the sand to a twelve-piece brass band
   that erupted from the back of a dump truck.
   As the instruments dozed on picnic benches
   we warmed our gritty feet by the bonfire
   and my new friend asked me if I was single.
   You weren't there. I pondered my relationship
   to verb tense, how I already miss
   the present while it happens--those hands
   of smoke carding my hair, tubas in dark water,
   stars rushing to devour the hot forest sky,
   inflamed and purpled all the way down
   to the horizon line. And I am so far away
   from where I started in this desert canyon
   on the longest night of the longest year,
   where the road seems to have been built
   to adore you in your dips and swells
   behind violet rock guardians who allow
   you to slingshot and fall, recalling
   that you are but one of them, as they are
   but one of you--you who have followed
   me all my life like the love who waits
   for me to remember how I'd search
   for you in the night skies of my infancy
   before I even understood who you are,
   for the moment when I'd find you
   and your name flung from its orbit,
   burst my synapses into satellites,
   and I opened my mouth to speak.
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Title Annotation:poetry
Author:Barngrover, Anne
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2019

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