taken from a dream i dreamed three months after Howard's death, this poem didn't tell me what the "moon" was until years later

 

Wrapped in Newspaper: The Moon


Metal or ceramic
like a golden cow horn it stuck from careless crumpled newspaper

nearly hidden
in tall grass by the lilacs next to a tipped over garbage can

meant to be hauled away that very morning. See
the burnished edge poke out of rumpled paper and know it isn't garbage in spite of a coating of fruit seeds and slime --
coffee grounds and sour milk

Somewhy furtive, look around
tuck the softmorning damp paper
around the point
casually walk back into house
Bang! Bang! Bang! my heart in my ears

I sit hard on the edge of the tub, the heavy package clutched near my lap

The paper rubs and tears away as
warm water runs into the sink,
float a rag in the sink
lay the thing on it
explain the tears
the noise from my throat

Heavy, rich golden crescent nearly lost nearly hauled away
as yesterday's debris - curve follows the sides of the bowl
cloth pinned under it (hear/feel my heart)
wash gentle
soap finger tips
rinse back and forth
loosen grit
rinse until smooth
clean but not slippery

The crescent is less round than expected less regular
pointed like a cow's horn at each end
rather more like a plantain

Ceramic or metal, silver or gold
who can tell?
an irregular pattern of age, gilt chemical weathering
I determine not to scrub
Any remaining stain is patina

The thing is, however, far less fragile than I supposed
for all its having fallen such a distance
I lift it onto a towel on the counter
pat it dry and before its porous surface can begin to flake
oil it lightly with a soft cloth

It shines like oiled skin

alive - alive

From my linens I search a rich scrap of frayed brocade
move all books from the shelftop next to my bed, and
Just so, center the cloth and
rest the moon in the middle

Beautiful, beautiful . . . think how nearly thrown away
. . . that the moon is mine fills me
its return surprising, comforting

I vow to care for it take care of it keep it - me - safe
Sit it on the window ledge
in the sun, the moon

Heywood Williams - May 5, 1992


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