On a few July evenings then the moon wore a nose.
Not a mere man-in-the-moon shadow
of long aped dull fantasy, but the real thing, drawn
smack in the middle of that mythic dead face.

But the moon had a nose only for a few minutes
on these few July evenings, before the moon rose
to bridesmaid pinks or oranges of evening glow.
We admit we knew, even on that first show

as the moon rose into its expected late day grayness,
that the moon, the dead man, would leave its nose
behind, just above the distant tree line. Then someday
we will see again what we have seen these July evenings,

determined against our rude intrusions of reason,
to forget for only those days that the nose was only
the sparse top of an ancient dying jack pine, standing
at some inexplicable distance across the lake.

We will also admit our glad failure to find that pine
on each of those eschatological July days. We drove
along country dirt roads We knew we needn’t hurry.
Even dying, even still, the jack pine may well outlast us.

But of all the creatures in this summer pantomime,
the unfeatured moon is neither dying nor searching.
In our own dying and searching we will look into the pines
and see the moon’s nose from our grounded humanness,

or we will not. Turning any corner we choose
on this country dirt road, what matters to the moon,
or the pine, or to us, after all, may be merely our looking
together, at imaginary features in a solid dream—

at a rock-face in a desert sun, directed by impervious lines,
perfectly blended into the script of eons of erosion.
Characters too immediate to the soul for mere beauty.
A shaman-world of necessary generation—scarce abundance.

The apposite ideal of what the pencil and eraser will do
like a ghost to erode the sheet of paper that reflects
the scratches of the written poem—a grave-rubbed moon-face
that cannot erase itself from lives that will be erased,

that can do nothing else

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.