Month without a Moon
Any night I like, I can rise instead of the moon
that has forgotten us, not a thought of our sad lot,
and roam the darkened oblongs of the dunes.
Once you said the moon was some pale god
who turned away his face to cause the tides,
and once you said that, I of course believed
that you were mad. Now the ghost crab guides
me to the edge where land is not land, sea not sea,
and all the sky above is one dark dream.
This is the month with no full moon. You
were its prophet, and I am standing on the seam
between belief and what I know is true.
I gave you a diamond. It should have been a pearl.
It should have been a stone to hang above the world.
What is smoke? my daughter asks
beside a campfire I can’t quite get to flame.
I know it’s not a liquid, she says.
Is it a gas? Is it a solid?
Simple. Straightforward. Something
I should know, I’m sure.
I start to say it’s what’s left
when the wood gives up the ghost,
but then I think of ash—
I always think of ash,
how it’s something but nothing,
what’s left when something’s gone.
There was a woman, then there was ash
her husband and the men she loved
scattered on the beach. The wind
wouldn’t let her stay there where she wanted.
My mother, seeding cancer, more ash
than paper dangling from her Lucky Strike.
What is it? my daughter says.
Nothing, I respond.
No, she says, what is smoke? I say
It’s what I make instead of fire.
Experts on Mortality
She makes her first announcement—I awake—
then springs out of her crib just like a toad.
Something in the trees, some movement,
some violence, makes it hard to forget
today. The chase is on. Daddy Death
rumbles down the stairs right behind his little
skeleton-in-waiting, out the door and into the wind—
she's gone. But no, she's there behind the hemlocks
giggling under branches that creak and groan
like everything alive. She points up in the air
says, Look! Look!—and there it is at the end
of her invisible string, the only thing she has,
all that he can give her:
a sky-blue kite in a kite-blue sky.
Reprinted by permission of the poet from Overtipping the Ferryman (Aldrich Press 2014).
For an interview with Evans, listen to this podcast from Ron Block’s Writers’ Roundtable from Rowan University.
R. G. Evans on Rowan University Radio
Evans has been invited to read from Overtipping the Ferryman at the Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, NJ, in October.
R.G. Evans’s poems, fiction, and reviews have appeared in The Literary Review, Pif Magazine, MARGIE, and Weird Tales among others. His book Overtipping the Ferryman won the 2013 Aldrich Prize and was published by Aldrich Press. He writes, teaches, and sings in southern New Jersey.