The Moon, Singing

Late in the evening, mid-August, and I watch the moon
tangle itself in an Alaskan cedar, a tree
my Botany teacher taught me to recognize
by its extreme droopiness. That was thirty years ago.
I remember how long because my cousin
died that summer and I failed the Botany final.
My worst grade for a class ever, although at the time
it didn't matter, and it doesn't matter now
as I sit brooding on how my cousin will never see
the moon again. To what world do the dead go?
It's late. I've been reading Graham Greene
and thinking about my father, who loved to read.
The moon is full tonight. The moon is full
of sad songs tonight, singing like a tone-deaf preacher,
its voice tripping over the consonants,
stretching every vowel into a drunken dirge.

14 August 2011