The word awake means dreaming in the moonlight.
You carefully place your feet, one by one,
in the shadow pool. Your ankles are stiff with un-
remembered nightmares. The moon radiates
the spirits of the dead, bone hands trying to erase
the night’s oblivion. The sky crowds with dirty
radiant loops of smog. Radioactive means sent
from a restless place—invisible, pacing, sweating.
A dirge is a sad boat. You hear snatches
of memory songs spilling out of the moon’s hull.
Waves are signals looping from boats, sound waves
that rock, rhythmic, then gradually fall asleep,
like exhausted new parents, just as the next child
opens her innocent moons.
A new moon
is a moon that you can’t see, but it can see you.
Sees you even in the deep hidden hour of the month,
the night hour, the forever when clouds sink over
the self-doubting moon, your eyes shut, alone
against the prying of blood, irradiated, purified.
About the Author
Mary Elizabeth Birnbaum was born, raised, and educated in New York City. She has studied poetry at the Joiner Institute in UMass, Boston. Mary’s translation of the Haitian poet Felix Morisseau-Leroy has been published in The Massachusetts Review, the anthology Into English (Graywolf Press), and in And There Will Be Singing, An Anthology of International Writing by The Massachusetts Review, 2019 as well. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Barrow Street, I-70 Review, J Journal, Nixes Mate Review, Ibbetson Street and Spoon River Poetry Review.