Apple Moons

For Domby

soft crumbs of salted crackers peppered

              across the wooden surface, where grandmother

                            sits at the table. red nails

              grip the glossy flesh of the gala and she raises it to her lips.


I can smell the wet saltiness of the softened saltine,

              she swallows – crepe skin undulates as she moves. grandmother

                            stands at the apple tree, scarlet gems hanging,

              swaying in Alabama summers, crooked feet in the feathery grass


mash the spoiled fruit into the clay. grandmother

              lays in the bed, wisps of white curl on the sheet

                            and crimson nails nestle in the linen – apple moons curdle

              on paper and crumbs soak in the unfermented wine.

The Molecular Level

With crutches and ropes, 

her brothers helped her 

scale the steeple of 

Saint-Pierre-de-Montrouge. 

Swinging past the clock, 

like from flying trapeze, 

this nameless woman 

reached the cross 

and rang the lone bell. 


Around the corner, 

on Rue Sophie-Germain, 

named for that jilted 

mathematician, 

you sat drinking your coffee, 

drinking in the atmosphere, 

replying to emails, 

checking your account. 

I watched her swing 

from the steeple as you 

studied Archimedes, 

Fermat’s Last Theorem, 

the royalist Cauchy. 

I wasted time staring at her 

flight, and you read 

Recherches sur la Theorie des Surfaces 

Elastiques.


I glanced back. 

Our eyes met again as 

if never before. 

The chemical bond strengthened 

and true. 

A heteronuclear connection. 

Atom upon atom, 

we exist in the same moment. 

We exist in the same 

infinite life. 

Neither created nor 

destroyed, 

our love is elastic. 

We learn of the melting 

Blackfoot Glacier 

and Schrodinger’s equation. 

The magnetics of our 

molecular bond attracting us 

again… again.


Suddenly, the ropes break, 

the crutches fall 

to the asphalt below. 

The nameless woman 

Lands with motionless 

broken neck. 

Inconnue on the police report, 

like Sophie Germain on 

The Eiffel Tower. 

Le Figaro

 suggested her right arm 

was replaced by the scales 

and toes of a chicken, 

shrunken in her sleeve, 

reaching for her crutch. 

It was never proven 

nor was that on the official 

report. 


You laughed it off on the 

surface and on 

the molecular level.

Gathering Firewood on Tinpan

I bundle them against my chest, not sure 

if they’re dry enough. Gauging how long 

they’ll keep me warm by the thickness. 

I step around carefully, looking for 

the deadest, searching the low places 

for something small and old that will catch. 

I pick up the dander loosened 

as my father folds his hands, lowers his head. 

The rolling thunder on the surface of a nail. 

I pick up the cross that seesaws his chest 

with each step. The day I lost my faith. 

The night my dog ran away and came back sick. 

The battery-pump of her final breath. 

Still wondering if she left alone, 

or if my father walked her out of this world. 

Still wondering what he used for a leash. 

I go further into the trees and find 

more fuel. My friends faded on oxy 

and percocet. My cousin Josh 

buried young in the floodplain.

My brother and the ways I burden him. 

Living it over and over each night. 

My father walking into every dream. 

My fire not bright enough to reveal anything. 

Not even his face. Not even the leash.



Reprinted from The Low Passions by Anders Carlson-Wee. Copyright (c) 2019 by Anders Carlson-Wee. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Mad Again

Rather than Mars, she traveled

to Oregon, spent days writing

before rivers turned cobalt blue

or the sky seeped a fine, red mist.

In quietness, she sees herself,

a skylight sounding rhythms

of lightly falling rain, an inked

body mistaking death for depth.

Digging Out (for Richard Kirkwood)

January


Split oak and hickory watch with stored disappointment

from under the pole barn’s rusted tin

as a year dawns too warm, uneventful.

A resurrected black and white cat

over an empty bowl shoots accusing eyes

after skipping me three nights. I atone

with milk and meat that he consumes

not with the ferocity my conscience demands,

but with dainty leisure and frequent licks

of those genteel paws I’ve seen him use

to snap the necks of doves.


Unforgiven, I watch him stroll toward the shedf

or a nap or for dessert, moving with casual indifference.

Patchy snow holds the slightest trace of his passing

destined for erasure by day’s brief sun

or for a new storm to fill.


February


Determined, I start in. I recall

as a boy that strain of muscle battling

sparkling snow so cold it squeaks under foot.

Years and miles of drifted white

distance me from that first ache.

But comforting heft of snow being moved

returns me to the white that is touching

white touching white down the hill

and around a curve in this new state

toward a road I cannot yet see.


Bend, slide, hoist, pivot,

sling the whiteness wherever—mantra

of flesh. Cold air brushes my face

as I muscle slowly forward composing

mental lists: Red wine, juice for Chance,

jugs of water, toilet paper and pasta

and beans, cracked corn for the squawking ducks

with pond ice slowly closing in, worry

over frayed wires in the well house,

electric heater running.


The cat reappears on the trail behind me.

A redbird on a bare limb watches both of us.

Bend, slide, hoist, pivot,

toss more snow, sink the blade again

into its heart, assess progress, feel warmth

on my back from slanting sun and cat’s eyes.

My eyes follow twin black lines from pole

to pole as they strain and disappear

around a last curve reaching for the road

one might almost believe lies waiting.

Beusselstraße

It stands high along the tracks,

Skinny and awkward,

Three stories,

Graffiti-covered,

Half-timbered in a city of stucco and brick.


It stands high above the long carriages,

The wagonnen, headed to Hamburg, Hannover, Bremen.


Who lives here now?

An old station man, using his cane to get up the stairs?

Ten spiders, observing ancient railway schedules?

A teenager from Poland?


A boy brushes his teeth before his date, spits off the bridge over the moving train.

He will stop at the grocery store on the way to the apartment,

Buying peaches, olives, an avocado.


He walks south now, toward the river.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN