A note from the author: "The Lunar Year" was inspired by reading a list of names for the moon in the various months. I chose the names that I found most intriguing and spun off from there. Many of the moon names were of Native American origin. To this day, some farmers schedule tasks according to the moon’s phase and I know of horse breeders who wean or castrate according to the “Sign” (a particular moon or phase of the moon).
The Lunar Year
That’s when the food ran out. The stock
Depleted, even the saved potatoes gone
Rotten at the eyes. Our savings cleft
By half, all love foreclosed, the doors
Of home padlocked, the windows boarded.
What else can happen? Weather broods
Over the bleak horizon. This moon is also known
As the snow moon.
The raven invented the world, now the crow rules
Its lesser partitions. It encompasses
The slyness of politicians, the ruthlessness of love.
It waits for things to die or else it torments
Songbirds, those who can tongue
A harmony every crow despises.
The lost wax process creates an egg
Of gorgeous dimensions, Byzantine
Geometrics suggesting a rage of contained
Passion. But another egg is pure.
Cool in the palm and distant
As that place where everything begins.
It is this specialization that defines us.
How we link to every creature
That nurses its young. That
Baptismal drink the Orient refuses
After a certain age. What sort of wisdom
Clinks bottles on a stoop at dawn
Like earliest, beloved memories.
You find them knitting the pasture
With rubies, the wild sort
Whose sweetness is so compact, so perfect
That cultivation seems a sort of sin
Original as the path that led us out
Of infancy to the bloody-hearted world
Wearing its seeds like a cloak.
Everything here depends on nitrogen
Of which thunder is merely the voice
As a slap is the sound of forked anger,
The sound angels made as they fell
Into the firmament, the first denial.
Producers of caviar and isinglass
One richly edible, the other a bonding agent
Like the lust that glues two lovers.
Flesh of temperate waters. The miracle
That feeds a jubilation
Of disbelievers. Cast your net. Have patience.
All grains were once wild
Uncultivated, there for the reaping
There for the first lively spirits
Fermenting like every wish into
Something achievable, the malt
Of high ambition.
Every goddess walks
Under that parasol, her arms
A cornucopia of fulfillment.
No wonder we worship this
Unblemished guise. No wonder
We think no matter how many banks
Fail, how many ships break into pieces
In the coming gales, we’ll still
Have this: how we were blessed
Just as the good times ended.
That’s what we do when everything
We counted on has collapsed
And all coffers are empty, all drawers
Divested of silk, all trigger fingers
Reinvested with darkness. Walk
Silently in the tracks of the dispossessed
Ensuring it will not be you.
Hunker down. Survival is now the key
To our heart, the tone-deaf song.
If you make a fire it is certain
To go out while you’re asleep
You’ll wake with your feet frozen
In a crossroad of bad choices.
Shaking is the way your body
Fights cold like this. Huddle together.
They have come back, those predators
Of the prairie, the steppe, the open range.
Protected as a parliament
Of oligarchs. Their guard hairs rising
As they sight you, out there
In your unarmed villages.
Top Illustration by Justin Perkins: Justin graduated from College for Creative Studies. A freelance illustrator and designer, he teaches art in Detriot. Justin’s first illustration for the North American Review appeared in issue 298.4.