Hos­pice Choir

Prairie Fire - - NICHOLAS BERTELSON -

We be­lieve in the full­ness of moons,

in their abil­ity to draw blood from women

and change men into ra­bid dogs.

Some­thing about the full-moon dusk

changes the dust here, turns it to cur­tains—

a mar­bled mirk in end­less au­gury,

a sheet sidling through fields

where coy­otes bow their heads

and sheared corn­stalks stand vigil-like.

Come day­light, we watch birds

throw them­selves aloft, droves swim­ming

over their gi­ant, amor­phous shadow.

This build­ing is where we’re tended to—

those of us who know we are noth­ing more

than ex­actly what we al­ways thought.

It’s not a re­minder to oth­ers of their fate,

not a cruel joke or a rel­a­tivist’s whim.

We’ve been nursed with pa­tient flu­ids

that bide their time in our veins. We swell and stew

and knit our mem­o­ries like death shrouds.

Ask us any­thing and we’ll an­swer.

What is the Pla­tonic form for nos­tal­gia?

It is a cloak fall­ing through the ocean

without ever find­ing the seafloor.

Do we re­ally be­lieve all that stuff about the moon?

If ev­ery ex­cru­ci­at­ing ex­ag­ger­a­tion

writ­ten about the moon came true,

then no one would be in this build­ing tonight.

Where would we be?

We’d play Red Rover in our white gowns,

sum­mon­ing each other to come on over.

We’d emerge from the dark,

rear­ing up, one by one,

ready to break the chain of hands.

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