New Moon

Click on > above to hear poem.

Elizabeth's View

“Elizabeth’s View” © 2011 by Jane Shoenfeld
after Lisel Mueller

After they’d sucked down the river, they still
hadn’t grasped the moon, so they dredged
the river bed, dried the mud,
and sifted its dust, but all that they gleaned
were dim-visioned bottom fish
ensnared in human hair.

And a passing traveler said,
Fools, do you think that the moon
burrows in muddy bottoms
like catfish or sturgeon?
Stand up, lift your voices like silver cups,
and let hosannas rise to the moon.

So they built rockets, filled them with traps
and fired them into the sky. And when
they thought it was captured, they lowered
their eyes and drew moon maps, examined
the rocks returned from the traps.

On his return the traveler said,
Now you know of the boulder that glows
in the sky. But the moon isn’t far
from your hearts. You must burn all your maps,
cast moonrocks to rivers, and look inward.

So they banished the traveler. But a few
returned to the river bed and raised their voices
like lilies, singing down the rain.
When the river was filled again,
the moon swam among them like a silver salmon.

Algonquins Planted Salmon, Red Mountain Press