Moon Blown Free
What kept me awake? Not a trite starry glaze
on the sun roof, or a phrase I liked to repeat,
or the downshift of cars climbing the grade;
not the sweet intense of us coupled
heating the van where we’d meet, or that moan
when you’d let yourself loosen in sleep.
My restless desire to behold
the whole of it—inward and out—
drove me onto the cold dome of rock
overlooking the home-studded valley.
Star whirl and leaf dust stung my eyes
with the sheer impact of blaze and crumble.
What space had this body opened into with you?
And where was the moon—had it blown free?
Men kissing, men kissing men in a movie,
women kissing, kissing women in the next,
then men kissing women, women, men,
lips swelling into sexual pout,
tongues like petals in storm whorling
on a screen in the basement
of the Methodist Church. Not porn, not instruction
but an ancient lesson—adoration,
how the mouth without words is made holy.
In the diner after the movies, men kissing,
a blonde and a redhead. Over rhubarb pie and coffee
I’m imagining the redhead kissing me.
It’s good, as good as any lover,
lips so full I want to gloss them with crimson,
signaling to ruin, Pass over here.
In the shiny metal wall, I glimpse a smeary face,
my own, blurred enough it could be my brother’s
leaning toward our father, ready for a bedtime kiss.
My brother, little, kissing our father,
my brother, grown, kissing our father.
Every night of the life they lived together,
Father leaning back in the rocker, tilting his head,
his mouth toward his son, Son leaning down,
thin lips pursed, his nose, so like Mother’s,
brushing Father’s nose, his stubbled chin
brushing Father’s stubbled chin,
the two of them, homophobic and affectionate,
saying goodnight with a kiss as soft
as the first kiss of the men in the movie, the men
in the diner, soft as kisses I have given or received.
Here I try to jump out of the box of language
Heart thumped, fist under dog’s thick ribs.
Scent drove its beat – nose to ground, heart
to nose. Fox, dog would have said but knew
red flick of tail, chewy flesh, bitter juice
of blood, knew without word, before word.
Dog is dog – stomach, nose, heart.
The past tense this is told in is not where dog runs.
J.C. Todd is author of What Space This Body (Wind Publications 2008), and two chapbooks, Nightshade and Entering Pisces, both from Pine Press. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner and on Verse Daily. Awards include two Leeway Awards for Poetry, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship, and fellowships to Schloss Wiepersdorf arts colony in Germany and the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Sweden. She has edited translation features on Lithuanian, Latvian and Slovene poetry The Drunken Boat and is a visiting lecturer in Creative Writing at Bryn Mawr College.
What Space This Body may be ordered online at Wind Publications