Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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After the fourth course and fifth bottle of wine,
my wife, my friends, and I stumbled onto
the porch, just in time to see Earth
take its first bite of the moon’s mottled bleu.
Somebody said the full moon always
reminded him of a guy with bad acne,
Tommy Lee Jones perhaps.
I said it reminded me of my boss,
the pocked inventor of the tetrahedral spike,
a clever little gadget
you could drop from an unseen B-52
into rice paddies miles below
and which always landed point up
ready to pierce boot, sandal, or naked foot.
My boss was proud to have served his country
in such a demonstrably harmful way.
I wondered if the moon was disappearing
in Vietnam as well. Total eclipses are local events,
like divorces and heart attacks. Maybe
they were just having a chest cold over there.
That’s when I mentioned the murdered woman.
She’d lived in the next apartment with her husband
or boyfriend, whatever he was. They were both refugees.
At night my wife and I would lie in bed and listen
to her body slam against our bedroom wall.
Next day she’d say they were discussing their future.
I heard my wife telling about the murder,
things police want to know:
Who gave him the gun. How he tracked her down.
Why we didn’t report the beatings.
Not why it’s easier to see the big picture:
millions of kilotons, millions of casualties.
Or why, when you’re that close to suffering,
you often look away.
The dance of the planets continued
until the eclipse was full.
The darkened moon didn’t look like cheese anymore
or someone’s cratered face, but like an innocent rock
hurled from who knows what distance
at some unsuspecting target.