Harvest Moon 2020

I built a fire from the trimmings
of the honeysuckle which threatened
to devour the right corner of
my front yard, by the street,
 
almost chewing my neighbor’s 
mailbox. Most of the limbs were 
dead, and the live ones had a few
days to season, leaves still 
 
attached, ready to crackle the 
blaze to life. I started with the lined
notebook paper holding my notes from
yesterday’s class, now obsolete. I
 
don’t save notes from semester to
semester. When I lecture on topics as
dry as essay format and outlining and
works cited pages, the least I can do
 
is to bring the freshness of new life, thoughts
not yet ready for the woodpile, analogies and
strategies not yet prime for kindling. Then
I tore the lid flaps from a small cardboard
 
box, most recently the delivery vessel for
new pens, 0.7’s, Sharpies. I heard they glide
like Kristi Yamaguchi, so I opened the Amazon 
app on my smartphone, searched them, clicked 
 
“Buy Now,” and that was just Tuesday, and this 
is Thursday, and I have new pens. Then I 
opened and wadded a piece of junk mail
addressed to the previous occupant of 

the house I refer to as “mine,” or
“mine and the bank’s,” all the while 
knowing that this life is a dream
and everything I know of it will fade.
 
I stack the papers and lean the cardboard and
angle the leaved branches, and teepee the larger
pieces of wood that I offer to the Harvest
Moon.  Once the fire has a life of its own,
 
I toss a half-used bundle of white sage into
the hottest part, at least seven or eight smudges 
left in it, but I have two more bundles, 
and who says only the insides need cleansing,
 
besides it always sets off the smoke alarm, 
and it is a Harvest Moon after all, and there
should be an offering.  And the fire grows,
and the smoke seeps into the fabric of my
 
jacket, and from my seat, I can see the fire,
and just above it, the house, and just above
that, the moon.  And I contemplate the prayer
I wish to give to the neon sky, to the only 
 
thing I know that has seen all of it.  And 
I say these words to the closest part I can
see of God, the satellite of each soul and 
season, the grandmother moon of me and 
 
my mother and 
her mother and 
her mother,
“Please, 
 
heal my nation.” 
 


© 2020 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved

Peace Be Unto You

There is a Muslim woman on the
walking trail this morning. 
I spot her in the distance,
coming my direction, her

black from head to toe. I
look forward to the chance
for kindness, anticipating a 
warm “good morning,” a smile.

And dare I be so bold as to offer 
“As-salamu alaykum”? Or would
I be appropriating culture to weave
my own humble-brag cloak

of magnanimity? Maybe just “hello.” 
As she gets closer, I begin to calculate
the odds of us meeting on this trail
today.  A trail in a small southern 

town. A town that only desegregated
its high schools in 1970. A town where
one can still see the old slave quarters, and
plantation houses are still occupied. A town 

Trumpier than Trump himself. And here, 
on this walking trail, comes this woman,
bravely hijabbed, shoulders back, not 
curved with the fear that I seem to feel

so often these days, striding with purpose
along a path in a town perhaps far, far
away from her homeland. When we get closer, 
I become sure of this. We smile and say hello.

She makes a comment about my dog,
a friendly comment. A friendly accented
comment.  Pakistani? Afghan? My ear
is not good enough to discern. But not

American. Not USian. Not Southern. 
Her warm rounded vowels, the soft r’s, 
the hard t’s like d’s. I hear almost 
Indian. Pakistani, I feel certain. I have

friends who are Pakistani, and I wonder
how lame it will sound to tell her so, so I
don’t.  I just smile as warmly as I know how.
I try to create a smile that says, “I’m really

glad you’re here. No, really. I’m not just 
saying that. I welcome you, and I honor you,
and I will stand up for your right to be here.”
But the smile is just a smile, and its

sincerity is enough, I suppose. I tell her to
have a nice day, and I hope that I’m not 
the only one who ever tells her that here in
this confederate backwater, but I fear

I could be. And after we pass, I realize that
she handled our encounter with so much
more grace than I. I walk about 50 yards
and turn around to see the woman in

black walking away, shoulders back,
with purpose. And then I think about how
I’m too afraid to even put a Biden sign
in my front yard, and I realize that her smile

was saying to me, “Darlin’, if I belong here,
so do you. You don’t have to hide.” And my
liberal, socialist-democrat, progressive,
lesbian self says out loud, right there on that

path, in the heart of Dixie,
“Wa-Alaykum Salaam.”   

© 2020 Deborah E. Moore, All Rights Reserved

Barry and Liz Chat It Up

CNN was abuzz last night about all the protocol the Obamas would have to follow to meet Queen Elizabeth.  Fortunately, they were not required to bow.  Apparently American citizens don’t have to bow to the Queen of England.

But there were other considerations.  They were not to speak until the Queen spoke first.  They were not to touch the Queen.  When they met the Queen, she would stick her hand out first to greet them, and then they could reach their hands out to shake hers.   They were to never have their backs to the Queen.  In their private audience, the Queen would leave the room first or walk out with them in order to avoid this horrible event that would probably cause the worlds to stop turning in at least eight different universes.

I’m a quasi- Anglophile.  I’m about as interested in all things British as any good English Literature major.   I admire the fact that the Brits have managed to keep a monarchy going for a bejillion-and-a-half years, and I can be moved by tradition, pomp, and circumstance as much as the next rebellious Yank.   But, I cannot help but hear the above ridiculous protocol for a President of the United States (for god’s sake) meeting the Queen of England without rolling my eyes and letting fly with a very American “Good grief.”  Get over yourself, Bess.

Perhaps it’s simply my baseball and apple pie showing, but it goes against every liberty-loving cell of my body to hear the news of ANYBODY bowing to ANYBODY, with the singular exception of curtain-call time on Broadway.

I see two ways the British Monarchy can continue to be relevant:

1)   Skip right past Charles and have William’s coronation.  Tomorrow.

2)  Figure out some way to convince Elizabeth to join the 20th Century (Yes, I mean 20th; even I’m not enough of an optimist to think she could make the leap all the way to the 21st).

God Save the Queen.  From her own pomposity.