Farryl Last: April 2016 Poet of the Month
Dear _ from a Faraway Moon
I spend six days & ten nights, out of count, counting back
a reckless purple; I do
dishes, scrub windows, borrow sugar from the house next door
to sweeten under swaying light. I will make something of this
Do you remember the evergreen sky
the first night in space? From the overlook ten flights up black all we could see
where there should have been a city, I superimposed a skyline by looking hard.
Once we'd met the first time near the train tracks near the spitting tank of artificial water
near the close view of the other three moons,
I'd seen it all.
There is a woman who sits at the water, counting her legs.
but tell me, first, how again you anatomized leaving:
On Europa there is water ice. On Io there are
volcanoes. On Ganymede there is a magnetic field. On Callisto there is an airport
where, like other travelers, we discuss weather patterns & flight paths & I finger the wool
of your jacket's collar. Later I will press the coins you left in the kitchen
to my skin. Can we talk
about your need? Nine days & six nights
you stayed. If you’d waited, well
I’d seen it all, hands in the water.
Lick of salt. Off the plane, off the legs the body moving toward atmosphere gilded
hands in the soil, hands in the memory of soil. Hands turning weeds turning seasons static
static the TV flickers in the back room &
whose ground is it anyway.
the garden needs seeding. But I
sat with the neighbors separated from the basalt sky & kept
only what was left
nights here flicker in
the planet's shadow; the neighbors say I'll learn it. Let's talk about the hurting.
And the exhausted sky. Instead, remember the garden I left on Earth
all aphids, how long
I cannot see when my legs don't work. I cannot walk, ground doesn't hold me, the ground
isn't anyway ground but a mess of foreign rocks & atmosphere how could I hope to walk?
Don't you understand?
How could I hope,
the atmosphere tastes like blackcurrant.
Best we leave the light off.
Don't you understand?
can I carry you when you’re not here
when the atmosphere even can’t keep me?
We'd have: the neighbors & an ocean's scaffolding next door.
Enough: that kerosene that fuels
the stars. Interstellar currency, we'd need nothing but our own palms, what comes from the tip of a finger against a chin. The neighbors will bring us salt. Sometimes
submerge & think I'm feeling tectonic ice, know it's my own veins
echoing. It’s enough to be, for a moment, solid, it’s enough
feel beneath our feet the spasms
of the ground. How long can I carry you when you’re not here. Anyway it’s
spring but it’s not here spring isn’t for the distant.
I’d plant another garden if the ground
here wouldn't poison the leaves.
Sadness: The Train
Town one: nameless, factory smoke clouded, wanting speed and wanting
tracks the train moves fast. Then
it moves faster.
Town two: apples beneath torn trees. The world is in that particular quiet
reserved for before-storm and funerals; children climbing up and down the branches;
a woman unravels a pink fleece blanket on a balding patch of grass. Endless stretch of field.
Town three: the clouds grow heavy again, the winter is always feeling heavy. By shop windows
tables lined with scarves and sweaters, winter has come early again, in the middle of spring,
in the middle of the living, strangely like an angel. Endless stretch of field.
The men are kicking, shy, the wrapping paper lying at the curb
and leaves, the sky washes in a hearty purple, like the too-soft parts of a plum.
I am that indentation; I play with the shade. Who am I to govern light?
Town four: I am unmade. In a monstrous pond, there are dirty seagulls pulling
at bottle wrappers, French fries. The insides ooze out, like yellow mashed by wheels.
I count fourteen seagulls, six light bulbs, three people at the water's edge.
The fields fill with old factories. The fields fill with grain. The fields move quickly, buzzing
like fireflies trapped in a glass jar, wings beating against up down the tinny metal top the smooth
sides so cold and so clear. A crowd of disembarked passengers wave from station windows
signs scrawled on scarves, on wrappers from orange juice bottles to greet, is it me? It isn't:
like a crowd once passed on the way to meet you. From the window, sunrise poisons the rain,
but this is not a gesture of defeat.
Farryl Last is a 2015 MFA graduate from Hunter College, where she now teaches. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, great weather for MEDIA, Hoot Review, and The Intentional, among others. She once lived in Mantova, Italy and taught English there.