(the second full moon in a given month, occurring about every 2 ½ years)
and which isn’t blue, but pearly as an abalone disc
washed ashore above the roof tops.
Just before bed we shuffled out in our slippers and night clothes,
in time to see it break free above the tree line
almost bouncing as the trees relinquished it,
settled back into their quiet places
empty handed. I helped you find it, that flood
of light, with your broken eyes,
and we stood there swaying with the trees
At the last blue moon we must have been
learning to stand to the newest loss,
your cancer finally behind us, and the Parkinson’s,
your dis-integrating vision waiting in the wings.
At the next one, for all we know we may be gone,
nothing but a memory, and so I yipped a tentative yip,
and then you yipped back in your crumbly voice
that gives way a bit, falls back, and then
my voice began to fill out, lift into a howl
and then, neighbors be damned,
another howl for both of us rose up,
round and full of all the lost and broken things,
lifted up in my chest, poured out of my throat
and the long high note spun
all that loss into silver light.
That autumn night at my mother’s small apartment
I’d been tossing all night on the narrow daybed
in her alcove room. She came to the doorway
in her blue nightgown, asked if I was all right.
I can’t sleep, I said, sitting up.
Would you, she asked, tentatively,
almost politely, would you like to lie down
on my bed … on one side of my bed?
She carefully chose her words, did not say
beside me, or with me. Quickly, before
I thought or felt what I wish now
I’d thought or felt: Oh no, I said.
No. I’ll be fine.
She backed away.
OK, she said, turning to her room.
And she was gone, and there never
came another chance
to lie beside my mother
in this life.
There you sit in the yellow bean bag
spit shining your black boots till they gleam.
You’ll line them up before you collapse
on the turquoise aquatic sheets, the water bed
rolling slowly toward me, sloshing away.
The lieutenant retires for the day. Taps.
When you are funny I love you:
when you do your El Medico accent,
appallingly offensive, or when you are Rock,
the punch drunk fighta from the Bronx
to my Esmeralda Robinowitz, which we do
deadpan for hours. Also when we have sex --
an activity we invented together and share
on the secret side of the blue beaded curtain --
there is love.
But Vietnam is coming, my formulaic
letters, your uninformative casual missives. Your hooch maid,
your VD quarantine (which, when I’m finally told,
I will not mind, having myself slept with an old lover.)
You will arrive in uniform, my dad’s welcoming banner
above the porch, and we will not know each other.
Dusty hot days I will sit in front of the window cooler
and cry. You will call me fat, make fun of me
for eating in front of friends, in private
call me Soldier, issue orders and commands
while you lie back smoking pot, plastic cookie
wrap and soda cans around you on the rug.
And it will all unravel, go to dust, come down
to a few photos in a shoe box on a high shelf.
Already we can feel the air changing, feel
how nothing we believe
will turn out to be true.
We knew that everything ends.
We said death by the same shot.
We said always. Lucky, we said.
And when the sidewalk began
to sink on one side, we learned to tip
our bodies, to walk with one leg longer
than the other. When the air grew thick
we breathed less deeply to avoid the cough,
and later, when everything turned green,
I went blue so you could tell me
from the furniture, the grass.
touch turned to fade, went pale and flavorless,
we added spice, slowed down, savored, slid
from one moment to the next with more
deliberation. Waves settled to rolling brooks;
in sweet warm waters we bathed
each other’s bodies in our little tubs.
I was bent, you bent around me and we saw
how there would be no bullet through both
hearts in the dark bed – only the slow receding
of our powers, our agency, of who we thought
we were, a purifying to our narrow essences,
our small sap flowing quietly away into the ground.
Dream of Carrying Natalie
The snow is over my head
my blue snow suit, my father
laughing, picks me up, takes me
down the stairs, through the billows
of white, the dazzle, the bright –
down where the lawn used to be
down where we roller skated
leans into the deep back seat
and warm, settles me safely
down among the coats.
I hold my arms out straight to the sides, hoping
I can lift her, lovely exhausted Natalie in shirt of grey
her black hair blowing, and she stands
behind me, stretches out, takes hold of my arms
and I lift, we rise up, stars blowing
such an upsweep of relief – I am strong
enough and she is so light.
Natalie and I are drifting now.
the fragments of her broken son
knit themselves closed.
We see boys running.
Surely that one’s Logan
Gail Rudd Entrekin is Poetry Editor of Hip Pocket Press and Editor of the online environmental literary magazine, Canary (www.canarylitmag.org). She is Editor of the poetry anthology Yuba Flows (2007) and the poetry & short fiction anthology Sierra Songs & Descants: Poetry & Prose of the Sierra (2002). Her poems have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Cimarron Review, Nimrod, New Ohio Review, and Southern Poetry Review, were finalists for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry from Nimrod International Journal in 2011, and won the Women’s National Book Association Award in 2016. Entrekin taught poetry and English literature at California colleges for 25 years. Her books of poetry include The Art of Healing (with Charles Entrekin) (Poetic Matrix Press 2016); Rearrangement of the Invisible, (Poetic Matrix Press, 2012); Change (Will Do You Good) (Poetic Matrix Press, 2005), which was nominated for a Northern California Book Award; You Notice the Body (Hip Pocket Press, 1998); and John Danced (Berkeley Poets Workshop & Press, 1983). She and her husband, poet and novelist Charles Entrekin, live in the hills of San Francisco’s East Bay.