You are in a new house. It is your fifth birthday.
The Charles River shushes your tantrums,
infrequent as they have become. The moon moth
is an introvert. Her wings light up the night like limes
but she prefers her Sycamore hollow.
Here is an insect that understands you. At two,
you wanted out only in rain, when everyone else
hid and you held your own roof. Now, you lead
the four year-olds in the march of “naughty coconuts,”
with a bucket on your head, an oak pod on your nose.
At five, I too was a red kite tugging all the bows
behind me. But I was quieted by men who thumped
behind me in their cars, chewing at my plaid.
The moon moth’s tail can be bitten off by predators
without harm to her. Small freed valve of the heart,
I used to be an excellent singer, never apologizing
for improvisation. Hannah, you are fivebeautifulfive
while I am learning that the moon moth has no mouth
as an adult, and this is the reason she dies.
Shari Caplan is the author of “Advice from a Siren” (Dancing Girl Press). Her work can be found at Zoetic Press, is forthcoming from Blue Lyra Review and Deluge and has earned her a scholarship to The Home School in Hudson, NY as well as a grant for the Vermont Studio Center. Caplan has worked on The VIDA Count, as a reader for Sugar House Review, and as co-editor of Soundings East. She received her MFA in Poetry from Lesley University.
my parents have a joint facebook account bc my mom found out my dad was messaging someone name TexasTitties2006 in an online poker game and she lost. her. goddamn. mind and threw the tv down the stairs.
The bridge rumbles as I drive across,
Below me is yesterday's town:
brick crumbling, machinery rusting,
the industrial revolution's terminal ward
by the slow brown river.
my mom got us banned from the swimming pool at the trailer park we lived in because she punched our neighbor in the face for walking to her mailbox to get her mail in sexy lingerie.
New skiff of snow on the roads and lawns
and a full moon above the night’s overcast.
I drive past two neighbors — two older men —
shoveling slush, their sidewalks scraped clean
The ambulance drivers in this town have no clocks
in their homes. Instead, the kitchen tables bear
sandbags and bean cans
and old issues of Playboy.
Iodine adorns the night stand.
the worst thing i ever did was spit on a mcdonald's cheeseburger that my aunt bought for me and threw it at her feet because i was mad my mom kicked me out of the house the week of my birthday for telling my hot english teacher that i had been in foster care.
Their bones keen a brittle dirge
for departed faith in possibility,
legitimacy, carried to rest
on backs bent over.
Imagine planting a garden. Imagine planting a garden of only yellow tulips. You love yellow tulips, the dusky smiles, stems’ green neutrality. Yellow tulips are your favorite. So mild.
His head was an apple
chest proud, deadman's float
while rows of parents looked on
with drowsy interest
His ghost was with me that morning
Wandering round my room
While I tried to write,
Lifting the corners of my laundry,
Making the dust dance in the light.