Laurie Klein Reads Moonchild
Editor’s Note: “Poems to Listen By” is an audio series where over time we will explore some of the themes in the Poet Laura checklist, as well as Tweetspeak’s “Generosity” theme throughout 2021.
Speaking of generosity, in December we love to make some of our patron-only content public as a gift to the world! Please enjoy this edition as a gift from Tweetspeak Poetry. The last two in the trio are not an easy set of poems though, so proceed with care.
Poems to Listen By: Moonstruck 05—Moonchild
Presented by Laurie Klein
Let’s begin with a playful haiku, written by Darlene.
poke a slender stick
into full white center orb.
pick lollipop moon.
An image like that might make you want to be a kid again. Of course, that might depend on your past. In this next piece, “moonchild,” Lucille Clifton freights her lines with personal subtext: a childhood emotionally cratered by abuse.
whatever slid into my mother’s room that
late june night, tapping her great belly,
summoned me out roundheaded and unsmiling.
is this the moon, my father used to grin.
cradling me? it was the moon
but nobody knew it then.
the moon understands dark places.
the moon has secrets of her own.
she holds what light she can.
we girls were ten years old and giggling
in our hand-me-downs. we wanted breasts,
pretended that we had them, tissued
our undershirts. jay johnson is teaching
me to french kiss, ella bragged, who
is teaching you? how do you say; my father?
the moon is queen of everything.
she rules the oceans, rivers, rain.
when I am asked whose tears these are
I always blame the moon.
A poem like “moonchild” stirs painful questions about how much gets told, what remains withheld. And why.
Perhaps a stranger’s story comes to your mind, a history you wish could be altered. Poet Reuben Jackson re-imagines a shared walk with a boy, one night in Florida—a walk fatally shattered by gunfire.
For Trayvon Martin
Instead of sleeping—
I walk with him from the store.
No Skittles, thank you.
We do not talk much—
Sneakers crossing the courtyard.
Humid Southern night.
We shake hands and hug—
Ancient, stoic tenderness.
I nod to the moon.
I’m so old school—
I hang till the latch clicks like.
An unloaded gun.
Sometimes, there is no celebratory toast to be made. Only amends. We bow our heads in lament. Perhaps we silently pledge the offering up of our own time and energies, in the name of justice with mercy.
You’ve just heard an untitled haiku, by Darlene, “moonchild,” by Louise Clifton, and “For Trayvon Martin,” by Reuben Jackson.
I’m Laurie Klein. Thank you for listening.
Photo by Nijla, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Haiku, by Darlene. Tweetspeak Poetry. Used by permission. “moonchild,” by Lucille Clifton, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, © 2012 by American Poets Continuum. Used by permission. “For Trayvon Martin,” by Reuben Jackson, from Scattered Clouds. Alan Squire Publishing. Used by permission. Audio and script by Laurie Klein with thanks to Pat Stien for direction. “Simple Gifts” (public domain). Musical performance, recording, and mastering, by Bill Klein.