“cold moon” by Kathleen Hellen

cold moon

Crossing the meridian, the moon so far away you think about the mother in a snowblind wilderness who signs away her child to bankers, though the birds hang around, the last bud lingers on the rosebush like the memory of a sled, stuck in a catastrophic snowglobe. I waited for the snow [insert the appropriate vehicle, something likewise white, falling, not a troika skimming fake asbestos flakes on the Russian landscape of a movie]. There are at least 100 words for snow in Russian, e.g., snow grain, snow crust, wet snow, snow that has been falling at night but stopped by the morning, etc. If we add the words in Eskimo, the list would be endless. A week ago it hit 70 degrees, the runners in short sleeves, the rain lightly tapping at the gutters. I waited for the ice to glaze the windshield but no white-frost-on-grass moon, no big-winter-coming moon. I can’t comprehend it. What is the word for snow that never comes? That never was touched? What is the Russian word for mother?

Kathleen Hellen’s latest collection is The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin. Her credits include two poetry chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento, and her prize-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House.