Reaching for Stars

moon climbing large
Collapsing onto the bed, he moans
“I don’t feel good.”
Every night he doesn’t feel good.

What would Good feel like? I want to ask.
The absence of pain?
A month of snow days?
Maybe this Good lays a path and clears debris,
one smooth downhill grade.
Or better still, buoyancy
as if weightless
on water cooled by twilight
and the wings of loons
dipping low.

I don’t know a Good like this
though I have to believe I once did.
A little girl still shimmies up that tree
to the highest branches,
still peers out from her perch
at the same thing this boy sees now.
A boy who emerges
eventually,
astonishingly
from her own grown body.

All gust and streetlight
this Good grazes the window,
creaks the floorboards
just outside the door,
close enough that my uneasy child resents
any distance he has to bridge.
Any distance at all.

Ice cream for dinner
without consequence?
Friends in abundance
who know the rules
without asking?

At bedtime he lands
as we all do
in a body made of bone
and scars.

“I’m sorry you don’t feel good,” I say,
“How about some sparkly?”
and touch his forehead
before padding barefoot through the dim house
to the kitchen. In the glow of the fridge,
cold seltzer
cracks open then sighs, whispering and glittering
as it tumbles free.
I lift the glass by the lip
and cross through the living room,
the bamboo floor
soft with dog hair and dust.

Against my palm and the underside of my wrist,
bubbles whisper
like secrets.

I grin stupidly at this, at the fizz kissing my skin,
at this body
of stars.
The ghost glances off me
in the dark hallway,
as if it alone knows the shape of a girl
aloft and thrumming
in these limbs,
as if promising to squeeze through tiny pockets
of air and shadow
to return to us
and restore us
to us.


Image: “Moon Climbing,” artist unknown

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4 thoughts on “Reaching for Stars”

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