After three full moons, my grandfather
pulls from his Bible the pink, laminated bookmark of her obituary.
Compares its hues to his deep purple wine
and the wine to the sugarcane overgrowth in the yard.
He takes me outside to show me the moon.
Again, it is waning.
He cups my hair
like folding water and kisses it.
In his yard he is a pagan.
He sets down a stone kettle
under the moonlit tatters of the fig tree.
Buries the stone’s cold feet in the crabgrass
to keep as a marker for the coming iron fire pit.
Once the penumbra passes
he will hold a fire gallery—
burn her notes, her journals,
burn everything she ever, even once, touched.
There, he says, the alignment is perfect
to burst open the Aries fire inside
the sugarcane stalks when the moon rays hit.
Sweet smoke canoeing
toward my drunken grandfather’s nostrils.
His mountain eyes in the pleats of fire.
The sugarcane goddess wafts
on sweet smoke, the wife
when she dies, she suffocated. Her blood was
is, always, saturated sugar
in red wine, sugar.
Once he held a holy chapel in his hands
here is the steeple, open the doors
the perfect alignment of fingerprints and palm lines
to follow a heart’s center into the deep dirt. Smoke
trail into the moon.
At least here, he yells, the moon comes home to me.
Two more glasses of wine and I will pray.
Sheila McMullin curates the feminist and artist resource website, MoonSpit Poetry, where a list of her publications can also be found. She is the Website Assistant for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts where she writes the column “Spotlight On!” celebrating literary magazines that publish a diverse representation of writers. She is a Contributing Editor for ROAR Magazine. Her poetry collection, Like Water, has received notable attention from Ahsahta Press, New Delta Review, and Black Lawrence Press chapbook competitions. She works as an after-school creative writing and college prep instructor, and volunteers at her local animal rescue. She holds her M.F.A. from George Mason University.