In Max Garland’s title poem, the moon glows on water like an apparition. The presence of the intangible shining through the tangible infuses many poems in this lyrical chapbook. Garland questions the dogma of his childhood religion, but he cannot escape seeing parables of spirit in nature and his own life. These are poems of finely drawn images, flowing, whimsical, and engaging. Garland was awarded the 1994 Juniper Prize for his first book of poetry Postal Confessions, and has earned many other awards and fellowships. He is a member of the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
That’s the moon come down to drink,
that apparition on the water. Or
it’s the milk of human kindness
slinking like an eel.
Wind tears the cottonwood away
leaf by handsized leaf.
Small waves slap the pilings.
What is the proper number of kisses
for a man to leave the world?
The average depth of melancholy?
The approximate wetness of hope?
It’s very expensive tonight, the wind
in the lakeside trees. I don’t see how
I could afford to listen
if not for you in the world,
as the leaves sail in their numbers,
somewhere deep, quick and moonlike.