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.
I'm standing in the wind.
We had five years left to cry,
stay in, get things done.
The wordy gurdy stands
quiet in the middle of my head;
missing pieces [with just enough
shine] rubber-banded tog-
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs.
Who would have carried it this far,
up the crest between watersheds,
then quit before the downhill?
This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
When you rose from the sea
the crown of your head
touched the clouds
A conveyor belt delivers mutton and fowl.
Hot meringues suffer and collapse
under my ruthless fork.
His breath tripped over words stuck between his teeth
and tongue as sinewy shoulders curved.
The child stood, small, shivering in her tattered brown coat,
a dented, scuffed brown suitcase gripped in her hand.
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.