Monday Apr 22

Moon Kamilah Aisha Moon has been a recipient of fellowships to Cave Canem, the Prague Summer Writing Institute , the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and The Vermont Studio Center.  Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in several journals and anthologies, including jubilat, Sou’wester, The Oxford American, Lumina, Callaloo, Bittersweet, Open City, Essence, Bloom, Obsidian III, Mosaic, Lodestar Quarterly, Bum Rush the Page, Gathering Ground, The Ringing Ear and Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.  She has led creative writing residencies for the Langston Hughes National Poetry Project, Community~Word Project, Acentos and Voices UnBroken.  Moon received her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

Peeling Potatoes at Terezin Concentration Camp, 1944

Ribbons of skin pile at our feet;
we count wet orbs like heads.
Beneath the blades, white meat.

Their kitchens are not kosher, or neat.
The knives engrave our tears.
Ribbons of skin pile at our feet.

They will salt these crops, a doomed fleet
torn from the earth’s throat.
Beneath the blades, white meat

to be mashed or boiled, a treat
milled beyond recognition.
Ribbons of skin pile at our feet,

flesh carved in dangling sheets—
slice after jagged slice
beneath the blades, white meat.

We work under the glare, a street
of eyes that cannot see.
Ribbons of skin pile at our feet.
Beneath the blades, white meat.

Nov. 1, 1977

It wasn’t an election year
and she had no choice.
The covering physician didn’t know
her body’s history or care
about this third life emerging.
No empathy for this swollen black
woman, who made him come in when
he could’ve been on the green
bogeying the 9th hole.
So on the day after Halloween,
All Saints’ Day, when the evil spirits
should have vanished,
he treated Mama with less grace
given a laboring mare—
almost dragging her off the table
as he ripped Sis by the ankles
into this world, sans regard for
a tangled umbilical cord,
the ab   sence of oxy   gen...
Those moments,
that act
will be reckoned, the same way everyone
from the Innkeeper to King Herod
were driven to atonement or death.
It seems
the most special of beings endure
harrowing beginnings.

Don’t drop your sister.  Ever.
Especially when I’m gone.  I don’t believe
you care as much as I do.  I want to, but
how could you, really?
And should you?  Gorgeous wind
in your sails.  But I need you
to carry her, to want to carry her.
Hold her hands on both sides, crossings ahead
swift and brutal.  Never let her out of your sight,
like years ago in the park, in the mall, at the movies.
Like after church, on the lawn when your father
wasn’t looking, didn’t correct those who only asked
about the first two. Promise me she won’t inhale
the ammonia smell of group mess halls,
wince at the prying fingers of hired help.
Promise me, girls.
When I was 18, I found your old wallet
in a drawer.  I eased your freshman I.D.
from the dark slit, smiled at the country hunk
on the hairy lip of manhood
staring back at me.  You appear brooding,
but those margarine eyes
cooked a deep brown, tell another truth.
Stuck to the other side, a photo booth
shot of your uptown girlfriend.
I have her nose.
Daddy, you’re fading;
but there is still sheen. Snapped
and tucked close, you unfold
on occasion; glimpses
of stray, ancient receipts.
Out of pocket
in your own house, you live
in the sanctuary.  Member
of every committee, your voice
soars through hymns, gospel
that wrings out the soul, hangs
sinners up clean and whole
again.  The robe hides
everything that sags.  Here,
your sacrifices win praise.
At home, glory isn’t as clear.
Tearing in places, you brace
for each crisp, new loss—
and now so do I, your firstborn
stitching things together,
carrying you with me
everywhere I go.