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Liane Strauss
Liane Strauss

Liane Strauss is a prize-winning poet, the author of Leaving Eden and Frankie, Alfredo, and Head of Poetry in Creative Writing at Birkbeck. She was born in Queens, New York, and has lived all over the US and now in London—but always in sight of the moon.

Photo: Derek Adams

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Liane Strauss Poetry


The Day We Learned About the Moon

 

 

“Moonrot,” he said, “that’s what we call this,”

and with that, he plucked the bright grey orange

with a fork from the platter

painted bluer than the Adriatic, and so it was

that I recalled the cement-spattered

golf ball Mrs Todd had affixed to a stick,

which was really an old paintbrush handle,

to show us what we weren’t

quite able to imagine in third grade among the stars

we ourselves had fashioned

rappelling like spiders from the rafters.

Having drawn the curtains tighter than the universe,

the lights stuttering off above us like the last train

disappearing down the tracks

into the next stop night, the fish tank

throbbing like the milky way in the corner, Mrs Todd

brandished her golf-ball-moon puppet

and revolved it around a candy-apple

puppet earth under an ingenious puppet sun,

no more than a bare yellow bulb in the base

of a lamp dangling like a trapeze artist ready for a catch

from those now dark tracks,

almost invisible, nearly nothing

but shadows crossing the ceiling like Siberia,

vaguely humming, like the caterpillars

in the cupboard, the electrical cord

trailing surreptitiously away behind her

like an afterthought, which could have been

the proof of a comet. But as the sun

and the moon, so too the hands of Mrs Todd

until, her arms entwined to the heart

of a pretzel, she herself had to spin

like a nearby planet,

or start over,

and there was no time for that.

Before the day was out

she’d taught us that even stars die

sometimes, though we’d only find out later,

leaving holes deeper than graves in the sky.

 

 

 

 

Life on the Moon

 

 

There are whole days I can almost imagine it.

 

Earthlight and sunlight woven together

like sand. The dreams we dream

 

wash up at dawn on land. The either-

or of now and then into thin air

 

where what we know is coming does

and doesn’t come. Whole galaxies,

 

like genies freed from silver lanterns,

seem to derive from chimney smoke

 

above a drive, where moon-cars

filled with cyclamen and shooting stars

 

are lined up with the windowsill,

and just inside, taking our time together

 

at the board carved from Sea of Tranquillity oak

and delivered in the eye of the last dust storm,

 

we are, who, sometime later, arm in arm,

retake our turn about the property

 

as clean green shoots evolve before us into crops

and craters wink with blue and rain

 

while headlong rivers pour like lights

along the brimming mountain range

 

in a distance that only moments ago

for all of time sat dark. Everywhere we go

 

we go with steps that float like lily pads;

in leaps of vision; at a moon’s pace.

 

Behind us the earth sleeps.

Above we count more stars than stars above.

 

Beneath our feet we almost feel

the certain surface of this moon

 

in the night of a sky that is moonless.

 

 

 

 

Villanelle of the Moon          

 

 

The moon reminds me what I have to do

when I am at a loss, or on a train,

because it’s always leading me to you.

 

Each time I think I haven’t thought things through,

and stop, unlike the moon, and think again,

the moon reminds me what I have to do.

 

For though I fall behind while you pursue

a thread you’ve dropped like moonlight in the rain,

because it’s always leading me to you,

 

the moon’s a lot like Cinderella’s shoe:

it promises to slip on without pain,

reminding me that all I have to do

 

is wait and see a month, or maybe two,

the way a singer sings until it’s plain.

Because it’s always leading me to you

 

and solar flares that catch are far and few

and beauty lies somewhere in same and change,

the moon reminds me what I have to do

because it’s always leading me to you.

 

 

 

Poems from All the Ways You Still Remind Me of the Moon by Liane Strauss (Paekakariki Press - February 2015)


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