available on Amazon and at Kelsay Books, January 2021
from Using Your Words
Burden of the Past
Such high expectations for years and years, and, always,
you fell short of them – you’ve re-read what you wrote,
recognized you were doing your best – a familiar girl,
difficult, unmeasured; everyone was. Half finished
reading Jackson Bate’s book on Johnson for your last exam,
exhausted but couldn’t sleep, you suddenly decided
to walk all over town, looking for another notebook,
which you found at Store 24, and a pen. Bate made
you believe you have conviction, and his affection
drove you round the corner, down the street,
back up the dormitory stairs and to your room.
There will always be something to say.
Springtime and the peepers cry
out for each other,
and the trail is darker than
the darkening air,
and from up ahead of you, shirt-tails flying,
bare feet pumping the pedals
as she disappears into
the sightless night,
Louisiana’s voice drifts down,
“I had a dream last night
that I could lick myself all
over, like a dog, until
I became invisible.”
And though you cannot see
her, you know that
voice, how it has changed her
face as she starts to sing,
“Cause I’m free,
I’m free falling.”
What You Mean
The moon is only visible
because the sun
undoes its darkness.
Some loves you choose.
Some love chooses you.
Call it love and wish it love
when what you mean is
something else – a knot
you can’t untie.
Unlatch and open.
A thousand thoughts fly out,
white with hope of light
that may not break.
We look through your pocket calendar, starting
at the back, birthdays, phone numbers, accounts,
medications, dosages, refill information. “He
never started another,” she tells me. We flip to
December, the family Christmas on the twenty-
ninth, an iron shot, rehab three days a week,
her seventieth two days before you died, and
the appointment you kept that last Monday.
“He knew,” she says. Sunday night you told her you
thought you might be admitted the next day; you felt
that bad. Thanksgiving and the half of us who made it
penciled in. September and a soccer game. I had to walk
you to and from the car. August and a trip to the lake.
July and a badminton tournament in the yard, getting
the kids out of the house so you could nap. June, May,
April, March and February, every week another set of
doctor, lunch, and dinner dates, people up to visit.
When did you decide? One day in the pharmacy when
you stood by those little leather volumes, the new
year stamping across them in gold? Did you linger or
hurry past? Did you glance up at the sunlight skating
across the windowglass, a strange woman on the
sidewalk, tightening her scarf around her open throat?
Did you step outside, head home, the medicine forgotten,
and the road familiar as the backs of the vivid dreams that
woke you every morning before daybreak when you’d
lie on your half of the bed and watch morning reinvent
itself, marching its fingertips of light over the hills,
like a mother distracting her little boy with play?
The Love Story
Frankie keeps asking
if you’re done being dead
yet. He wanders away
from the kitchen,
the sky finds a raven,
black as blindness,
outlined in wings.
Later a sideways snow
will wrap the stones
in purest white. We are
growing older without you.
The days go
by, the possible,
You always let us
What more is there
to say, though all else
repeats itself? You would
want to start over.
The rest of us move in
what insists on being
a forward motion.
Ready or not,
here we come.
Moore has taught writing at Lawrence Academy since 1983. Published in 2021, Splendor is her third book of poetry. In 2017, Kelsay Books published Using Your Words, a book-length collection of narrative verse exploring the lives of 3 generations of women in the same family as, without a map, they navigate the choices of the past sixty years. Moore's chapbook Yahoodips, a collection written in memory of her father, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2010. Several journals and magazines have recognized and published her poetry and short fiction. Her essays about education are available through NAIS. Her books are available through their publisher and on Amazon.