Friday, April 15, 2011

If They Knew

The wide-eyed moon lights
winter’s midnight sky.  

One word changes the season,
the hour, the shape of the moon.

You cannot say, it’s cold.

You must let the cardinal, clinging
to a bare branch outside a frost-
kissed window tell them the freeze
is almost over.

And you cannot speak of love at all.
Certainly, not heartbreak.

Instead, you must settle for how
the cardinal always flies away,
how the moon recedes in daylight.

If they knew they wouldn’t ask 
how long a poem takes. A half-hour
becomes a decade when you’re
rapt by the words formed on her lips.

If they only knew, they wouldn’t ask.

Who wants to know how you pull
words from your jaw, raw and flesh-ridden.

Who wants to know how everything
is always about her anyway.

Certainly, not me, gazing out
into the uncertain dawn.

Yes, least of all me, abandoned now
by the cardinal and the moon.

© Ami Mattison

Flickr photo courtesy of RunnerJenny


  1. smiles. how long does it take? beats the hell out of me...some days and then some days...i use pliers, at least when i am done with the hack saw...may your cardinal sing in your ear and you be mooned soon enough.

  2. Lyrical and beautiful, Ami. I like how you separate that word "certainly" with a comma; it forces a pause, as a re-thinking or hesitation.

    The cardinal is Virginia's state bird. For a long time after DDT, it disappeared and only recently has been making a come-back. I like how it serves as metaphor in this poem.

  3. Wow Ami, this really made me smile. Are you trying something new? I hear something different in your writing, can't really explain it ... it's damn good though, damn good.

  4. Mattison, this is amazing. Writing is a bit like grief, I suppose. We just take it as it comes and let it do what it does to us.

  5. Yes... I agree with sMichelle... feels different... soft, you are looking out of your window on a full moon night, your nose squashed against a window bar, whispering this song through cold lips...
    or maybe it's just my imagination! :)

    Loved it!