After the Death of His Brother’s Wife

Uncle Jack, the oldest, saysFrom now on it’s a lottery.He means Don’t count on meto die next. I may be the oldest,I may have lied before any of you,gotten drunk first, fucked a girl first,but this time, boys, don’t count on me.

Maybe they would whisper,Jack, show us the way,as if the way were visible,something otherthan the brightest darkness,an unfolding of a flat thing,a certainty weighed against itself.

What he means is, I’m afraid–and if they could, his brotherswould say to him Yes, yes–

River of Childhood

I sat then on a fallen oakdredged up by a winter tide,sand in loops,curved, patterned as the sky.I stroked the bark where beetlesmined for larvae, the barklight as segmented legs,the exoskeleton turned outto a pincer mouth.

Now I am awakened againto that solitude, and longto wander in the wildwith the blue heron,to feel the perch surfacingon the river of my body,its current whole and parceled,spinning into itself.–Athena O. Kildegaard

The Moon

Take a spoonful of the moonor even a capsule every two hours.It’s good as a hypnotic or sedativeand also gives reliefto those intoxicated by philosophy.A piece of moon in the pocketis better luck than a rabbit’s foot:with it you can find the one you love,grow rich without knowing anyone,and avoid doctors and clinics.Give a treat to the childrenwhen they haven’t slept,and a few drops of moon in the eyes of the oldwill ease their death.

Put a tender leaf of the moonunder your pillowand you will see just what you want to see.Always carry a vial of the moon’s airfor when you are drowning,and give the moon’s keyto the prisoners and the disillusioned.For those condemned to dieand for those condemned to lifethere is no better stimulant than the moonin measured and controlled doses.

–Jaime Sabines translated by Athena O. Kildegaard

Athena O. Kildegaard‘s poems have appeared in The Cream City Review, Willow Springs, Defined Providence, Mid-American Review, Poetry East, The Malahat Review, and elsewhere. She is descended from high-quality Texas stock and now lives with her family in Guanajuato, Mexico, which used to be one of the richest cities in the Western hemisphere, and remains one of the most endearing. Jaime Sabines, who lived in Chiapas until his recent death, was a businessman and beloved Mexican poet of the twentieth century.

–Naomi Shihab Nye