Poem of the Week, by Cathy Ross
My poems podcast, Words by Winter, can be found here.
Years ago my daughter and I spent a magical week in Istanbul. We visited mosques, ate Turkish candy, drank mint tea, took a boat down the Bosphorus to the mouth of the Black Sea, smoked a hookah on the front porch of a restaurant where we sat for hours watching the passersby. We were mistaken, variously, for Brazilian, French, and Canadian women.
One evening, while my daughter slept, I sat by the window and listened to the calls of the muezzins rising over the city in the call to prayer. The sound filled my heart and I told myself what I always do when something beautiful happens during a trip: You’ll be back, Allie. You’ll hear this again. But I won’t. Every beautiful moment is a miracle, and then it’s gone.
If the Moon Came Out Only Once a Month, by Cathy Ross
If the moon came out only once a month
people would appreciate it more. They’d mark it
in their datebooks, take a walk by moonlight, notice
how their bedroom window framed its silver smile.
And if the moon came out just once a year,
it would be a holiday, with tinsel streamers
tied to lampposts, stores closing early
so no one has to work on lunar eve,
travelers rushing to get home by moon-night,
celebrations with champagne and cheese.
Folks would stay awake ’til dawn
to watch it turn transparent and slowly fade away.
And if the moon came out randomly,
the world would be on wide alert, never knowing
when it might appear, spotters scanning empty skies,
weathermen on TV giving odds—“a 10% chance
of moon tonight”—and when it suddenly began to rise,
everyone would cry “the moon is out,” crowds
would fill the streets, jostling and pointing,
night events would be canceled,
moon-closure signs posted on the doors.
And if the moon rose but once a century,
ascending luminous and lush on a long-awaited night,
all humans on the planet would gather
in huddled, whispering groups
to stare in awe, dazzled by its brilliance,
enchanted by its spell. Years later,
they would tell their children, “Yes, I saw it once.
Maybe you will live to see it too.”
But the moon is always with us,
an old familiar face, like the mantel clock,
so no one pays it much attention.
why not go outside and gaze up in wonder,
as if you’d never seen it before,
as if it were a miracle,
as if you had been waiting
all your life.
For more information on Cathy Ross, please check out her website.