Rat Among the Pines

Roger Reeves

Terror, tonight

Is the moon
Slipping from a rat’s gray grasp,

Finding its way back
Into the sky, which is America—

A white moon
Leaning on the night’s neck

With its hands in its pocket,
Moon hung calm above

Catastrophe, the police
Breaking the neck of a man

Who had just brushed summer’s
First bead of rain from his eye-

Lashes. Who—knocking a Newport
Against a wrist, watching smoke

Break its head against a brick
Wall—is preparing to die

Unaware they are preparing to die.
Heavy the moon, silly the tasking

Of a rat with delaying death.
Terror, tonight

Is the candor of the earth
Where someone is preparing to die

And the earth receives that dying
With its hands in its pockets.

And the moon that once burnt the silk
Hump of a rat, back in the sky.

And my daughter hiding in the rose
Bushes, asking who, who the sirens

Have come to kill. And someone calling
It beautiful—summer, moon—

And someone dying beneath that beauty,
Which is America.

Roger Reeves is author of the poetry collection King Me. He has received the Whiting Award and other honors.
Originally published:
September 1, 2020

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