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Poetry Winter 2021

Phases

by Brennecke Gale

in eighth grade, I had a science teacher
who taught us the phases of the moon.
he taught us other stuff too,
like physics and friction and gravity and velocity
and why it snows more on one side of the mountain
than the other.
he taught us all sorts of things,
but I only ever remembered the moon.

I knew that it looked like a “D” when it was growing
and a “C” when it was shrinking.
the moon set the alphabet backwards.
waxing waning crescent gibbous
words that flowed over my tongue
and straight to the memory
crescent slivers over campfire flickers
and a mirror lake full moon reflection.
the moon is hard to forget.

that teacher followed us to high school
and one day there was a solar eclipse
and we gathered outside
not not looking at the sky.
he approached me and asked if I remembered why
eclipses happen.
I didn’t. I looked instead at the half-moon leaf
shadows the eclipse made on the ground.
like a waxing gibbous, I said,
pointing at the dancing shadows.
he smiled, a little sad.

in college now
I go for a bike ride near my childhood home
where my life has been put on pause.
the sun has already set
the sky went from orange to pink and now,
blue again,
like the day needed one last look.
the deer have gathered in the field.
the wheatgrass looks like moonlight.
I look up, and there,
tucked in among the blue-grey sky.
fingernail moon.
waning crescent. just a sliver
of wheatgrass. 

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