Issue > Poetry
Laura Marris

Laura Marris

Laura Marris is a writer and translator. She has been a MacDowell Colony fellow, and her work has appeared in The Common, Meridian, Washington Square ReviewThe Brooklyn Rail and elsewhere. She is currently working on a translation of Louis Guilloux’s novel Le Sang Noir for The New York Review of Books.

Moon Man

Tonight, in the garden,
the moths circle the light
which they think is the light of the moon.

"Tell the Big T," my first grade teacher said.
Even at six, I knew it was better to tell
the story she expected—the cat
in the downstairs window
batting and batting
what it thinks is another cat.

The night rummaging inside itself,
hollow break of the sea—

There is no language without deceit,
Calvino says.

Even you have been given a mouth,
poor white orb, poor tide-fisher.


Up and down the road the ornamental pear trees—
ornamental, meaning they bear hard lumps
of grainy flesh. A year ago, I had a choice to make,
a movement of the mouth
around a yes or a no. A cold spring wells
in the Cornwall dirt, a brook slips under stones. A man lives
in a tent in these woods—I take a walk
to keep him company and together we tally the hawks rising red-tailed
from the cover of new leaves.
He has an excellent hand
for drawing them, which is always
a hopeful process, the lines sketching
his attachment to the animal, to the bones
which underlie movement; blanks
where the muscles will go. In the drawing
he gave us as a wedding present, the hawk has jesses,
a bell. Some mornings my wife plucks
flowers from the pear tree and puts them
in water. I remember one widow
who told me her husband hid
his illness for a whole year, then broke down
over a pint. Her name was Lena and she had curtains
embroidered with ABCs. How did that make you feel,
I asked, and she said Like a fool. No,
like a child
. I've told
my wife everything I know, but not
my daughter. After she turns ten this August, it will be harder to conceal.


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