poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

Yvette Neisser Moreno

 

NOCTURNAL LIFE
for my father


Lately, my grief has turned
to an obsession with your nocturnal life—
all the nights you slept,
all the mornings you awoke—
a life’s worth of dreams.

Remember, you were always speaking
or on the cusp of another word—
I’d begin an utterance
and your voice would break in—

evenings, the piano resounded
with your renderings
of Nachtmusik or Chopin—
your lips set, torso lifting and lowering,
foot on the pedal …

If I could envision
your soundless inner life—
if I could splice your dreams together
into one seamless reel
tracing the course of your subconscious
from childhood’s gilded chords
to your last open-hearted day—

Would I understand the silence
I hear from you now?

 

MOCKINGBIRD

Alone at the edge of shade and sun,
it takes a few steps, then stops
as if unable to move; opens its beak
to vocalize, but no sound comes.

This must be the end of life:
a bird that can no longer fly,
a voice that can no longer speak.

We, the survivors, feel his anguish,
his solitude, feel the wings
shudder with effort.

This bird shall not be forgotten.
This bird shall remain tottering
at the edge of memory
reminding us of what comes next.

 

CONNECTING THE DOTS

The day blurred by July’s heat, gridded mesh
of the screen door behind us, we remember this:

coloring books and crayons, drawing lines
to fill the space between one dot and the next,

grown-ups climbing the steps,
the pressure of air and the sound

of catching one’s breath
as the door pulled itself shut.

Try to picture Grandpa in the garage,
slouched in the driver’s seat,

hands spread over the wheel,
every window closed.

A few yards away, crayons gripped in our fingers,
we flattened colored wax into the paper’s soft pulp,

unveiling stems and flowers line by line,
until finally, an array of petals

emerged from the white pages
and our hands stopped moving.

 

 

artwork

Stevens Carter
C-Note
#8a
see more work by Stevens Carter

 

MY SON, ASLEEP

From within the ocean, a horse pounds into shore,
steaming with lightning, mane ablaze but not burning,
struck by underwater fire and furious,
haloed by his own flames in a rainless, stormless night
as if this time the ocean had coiled its rage
into this seething propulsion, this impassioned bullet,
vapor flying from his tail and fathomed drops from his hooves—

How did he get here, where is he going?
The stars do not answer tonight.
This water-fire animal sears my dreams
as you sleep, touching me;
he roars up the strand with sand-scorched hooves
trying to shake the fire from himself,
trying to shake himself out of this world.

 


Yvette Neisser Moreno's poems have been published in North Carolina Literary Review, The Potomac Review, Seventh Quarry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She has translated two books of poetry from Spanish, most recently South Pole / Polo Sur by María Teresa Ogliastri (co-translated with Patricia Fisher), forthcoming from Settlement House in 2011; and Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems by Luis Alberto Ambroggio, published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2009. She works as a freelance writer/editor and teaches writing at the University of Maryland University College and The Writer's Center, and serves on the planning committee for the 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

 

Published in Volume 12, Number 2, Spring 2011.

 

To read more by this author:
Yvette Neisser: DC Places Issue
Yvette Neisser Moreno: Audio Issue
Yvette Neisser Moreno: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue