Frances Ruhlen McConnel
Old Mother Moon
 

Mother Moon, licking a white path through the waves,
is that the way home? 
 
When will my dark prince come on his white yacht
to carry me away?
 
The voice of youth tells stories that make the old
ache in their breastbones,
 
a flutter of ache, no matter how lovely
their pleasures.
 
Pleasures wear thin, wear us out, until flesh is a cloud of atoms
dispersing on the wind.
 
Beyond the sea, blackberries remember how
they grew once among thorns,
 
how they blossomed one season and the next
ran red and sticky,
 
then dried to dusty pebbles; how bears
fumbled among them
 
and honeybees hatched over and over. 
This is the childhood
 
I carry in my head like an address flooded
with the rising of a dam,
 
the dam that made the power for the nuclear plant
where Father’s cells
 
caught the sickness mortality.
The aging children pray
 
for deliverance from the wreckage of the ancients 
and for themselves, at the end, 
 
a short slide down a chute into the path
of moonbeams.
 
I tell you this now, while the water-line still dips
and rises gently with the tide:
 
chute, prayer, berry, flesh, flutter, path,
mother moon.
 
 


Journey—A Ghazal                                      
 

Love greets us at our first wailed breath;
and follows us, we pray, beyond our last frail breath.
 
Toddlers kicking the floor, punching the very air,
have learned the power of the withheld breath.
 
The bottle spins, the roulette wheel goes round.
Sometimes it’s mint, sometimes garlic, on his tell-tale breath.
 
Smoke follows beauty, in campfire’s ring--your ember eyes,
singed throat, nailed by Vulcan’s soul-breath.
 
The sun exhales Buddha; the earth: ten kinds of clouds.
The trees, like deep lovers, inhale breath.
 
Tempest and ship, sun and ice-floe, breaker and shore.
There’s always a lover and a lovee--under the gale’s breath. 
 
Passion will say anything: Take me.  Let me go. Give me more.
Give me less. 
The hiss of need’s blackmail breath.
 
Love makes us hyperventilate, see black some say like death.
I touch your closed eyes with my Braille breath.
 
On closet floors our shoes jumble, ever at odds.
Above, shirts swap sweet nothings under their percale breath.
 
The basement’s drowning, our stored things going, gone:
Slam that door against old pipes, big rains, yester-love’s stale breath.
 
And, oh, the graveyard’s beckoning boughs, its bright grass,
the hint of chrysanthemums on ghosts’ pale breath.
 
Whom do I woo?  Whom chide? Who loves me?  Or not?
Daisies, you and God.  Oh, Frankie, save your (bet or bail!) breath.