Children of the Moon, Chapter 18: A New Day

To read the preceding chapters, please go to the Prologue. This is the final chapter.

Mira found her father in Jose Marti Park
with a gaggle of men playing chess;
he looked up at her:
Only you cared enough to find me;
together they sat by a fountain

He lived with relatives near the site
of a Spanish garrison built at the mouth
of the Miami River in 1567, soon after destroyed
by the Tequesta and Ais tribes; 200 years
later, the tribes’ survivors left Florida for Cuba

He told her he had seen Primitivo:
He’s doing well; he likes it where he is;
and then her father confided:
He shocked me, though; he said he saw
a man leaving Blanca Cors’ house that night.

A man, not a boy, not Sandy;
he never said anything because
he thought no one would believe him.

Mira responded urgently:
He has to tell the police!
Her father nodded and took her hand:
I went with him to the tribal leaders
and we talked to the police and FBI.

At the prison, Morris Rubra informed Sandy:
Evidence has surfaced to show you are not
the one guilty of the attack on Blanca Cors;
another man has been identified,
and he has confessed.

Sandy rose to his feet, confused, searching:
Why did he wait so long?
All along he must have known.

The lawyer replied:
He believes the system is corrupt
and your conviction proved his case;
I’m told he reveled in the irony,
and watched you like a hawk

It was only when he knew we had him
dead to rights that he decided to revel
instead in the stories of his carnage;
he’s the same man indicted for the murder
of the woman whose remains Mira discovered.

Sandy took a deep breath:
I mourn his victims and I mourn his loss
of innocence.

Morris Rubra placed a hand on his shoulder:
It’s time for you to think of the future.
This evening, you’ll be released;
Sandy pressed his hands to his eyes:
Thank you.

Laurel walked with the grace of a dancer,
her laugh as infusive as a citrus in bloom;
she was a tower of songs; when she spoke,
her words were preceded by veil-like, dancing
sands across Sandy’s stomach and chest

When he finally heard her, the tones
were rich and slow, heavy fragrant flowers,
almost possible to touch

At the ranch Sandy felt a terrible pain,
a numb, aching nostalgia,
as the world tipped from view;
he saw it all as though from a separate place,
scaled down visions, distant, skewed

In the corral horses were swirling, whirling,
performing in formation; too many horses
at the rodeo, racing in every direction

A series of shocks and jolts disengaged
him from the center, but he struggled
to hold on and keep his balance
as gravity played havoc,
and then he began to fall

He confided to Laurel:
It’s no good. I don’t belong here anymore;
she took him to the beach house,
and in the cradle of echoing dunes
the ebb and flow soothed him

A fishing ship began its long slow turn
into the channel, an opalescent shoreline
turned its face to the moon:
a bright and translucent reflection
washed over them, mating with their own

They lay beside each other on a desert
of blue and white sands, in isolation
formed by their desire; Laurel touched him;
he broke apart, as when the Earth expanded
and continents formed new worlds

On the imprintable sand, they made love
dappled by moonlight and shadow:
two Pierrots

They fell away, drifting down in currents
to the ocean floor, and the ocean’s voice,
the echo of its power, was silenced
by summer heat as they rose again
far above the waves

At Key Biscayne Mira watched the city
sail away; a ship moved slowly on the horizon,
dragging time by its heels; the ruins of Vizcaya
vibrated before brazen hotels and mansions;
she belonged to both worlds and neither

Sunlight fell in a glittering torrent on the bay,
a river of gold pieces spilling out before her,
and she hoped the streaming water
would carry away all her sorrow,
all her father’s and her friends’ losses

She wanted to see far into the future,
and so she asked Will to meet her
at the Cape Florida lighthouse

The past was a treasured pearl,
enclosed in a rough exterior,
preserved in both of them,
but she wondered what would happen
when the past was exposed to the light

She found the old lighthouse
with the fateful ease of a dream;
Will was not there; Mira felt the cold air
of outrunning a dream and turned back,
leaving the past behind

Will was standing by the door
of the Lightkeeper’s cottage;
and they laughed at life’s design
overriding their miscue
and overwriting their narrative

They walked by gardens of fruit, fish,
fowl, flowers, and people ripening,
drying in the sun; a lingering effervescence
mingled with the scent of the open sea
challenging and beckoning

At dawn, Will left her side
and walked to the window,
and Mira saw his shadow passing
as he always saw hers, a vision
moving into the future

Will said as she joined him:
If you see the river, you will also see
the marina and the bridge,
white boats and jade-green water,
born from the morning sea fog.

On the beach, seed-topped grass
grew on dunes, and parallel lines
of seaweed followed the curving coast

With all things sailing they navigated
by the stars, flowing into ports of call,
sailing away with renewed purpose,
sailing with grief and ecstasy
into the fold and mantle of the sea

Sandy and Laurel moved to the island
and renovated the beach house;
Sandy learned from a retired sea captain
to pilot a charter boat, for sport fishing
and tourists seeking the Gulf’s bounty

One day they joined the old captain
on his boat; going out to sea
until there was only water and sky,
and with friends and family gathered on deck
Laurel and Sandy were married

At the beach house, Sandy held Laurel,
watching a storm brew proud and wild,
and in her body an ingrained strength
matched his own; where tides crossed
waves collided, water devils spun to shore

There were broad shimmering ecstasies,
fibers twisting to the sun’s scorching eye;
and the center of gravity became many
centers of gravity; the storm revolved,
and the core transformed

They were spinning in the eye of the storm
as clouds wove a veil, cool light sank
into their eyes, lilies and breaking waves,
and they were one with the line and flow
of the world

In time, through time, beyond time
they had become matter, dark matter,
liquid, vapor, fire and pure energy,
connected by whatever it is that arranges things
to the other raptured beings around them

In time they had a daughter:
Dia, said Laurel, a new day,
as Sandy cradled the child in his arms


Children of the Moon, Chapter 17

Children of the Moon
childrenofmoonlighteffectsThe bus stopped at Port Charlotte;
Mira closed her eyes: she was sailing
on a white skiff with one white sail, skimming over the ocean in gentle blue
until a rolling sea fog wrapped around her

She saw white columns rise in the mist,
stone pillars of a temple: bones, and the water
life-blood; they formed a body,
the body of a people through which
she had always been traveling

Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, Pine Island,
the highway crossed the Everglades:
on this quiet day Mira heard alligators barking

What lay beyond came to her sight:
islands of cypress and Brazilian pepper,
ragged stands of pond apple,
stalked by tawny Florida panthers,
and invaded by pythons and monitor lizards

Small villages passed by;
and as she traveled, each place was more familiar;
the bus stopped at a town
and she sprang from her seat to land
on a parking lot paved with crushed shells

The moon was bold in the daytime sky
and sounds in the high range whisked away;
a tall, beautiful woman in a colorful rickrack skirt
and black hair swept high over her forehead
strode toward her with a smile

Evening came, and Will walked home,
down the road to the old ranch house;
his mother was leading a chestnut horse
from the barn, and he felt the air knocked
from his lungs

In this moment the veil was lifted:
his mother had been tending the horses
and his father working the ranch
without Sandy, without him;
he had left alone with their grief

He kept walking because the impetus
to go home was too strong
for even guilt to stop

He turned up the horseshoe drive
and his mother stood stone still
and then she screamed, looping the reins
over a fence post and running to him:
Will! It’s you.

A Ford F250 roared up as Will embraced
his mother; his father put a hand on his back:
Are you home for good?
and Will nodded yes:
I’m here.

Will wrote to Sandy, and visited Morris Rubra:
I want to help Sandy;
Is there anything I can do?

Morris Rubra handed Will news clippings:
I’ve been looking at cases all over the state
for similarities to this crime. Can you read these?
Will smiled in appreciation; settling in
at the ranch, he began to research legal cases

Evening came; the sunset was a riot of flame;
Laurel’s uncle opened Grandma Wing’s bungalow
to the gulf breeze and murmurs of flow and flux,
and Laurel moved through the rooms,
feeling at ease, as if she were coming home

The sun rose and the ocean gained color;
Laurel heard the waves resounding in the sand;
a cloud’s shadow rolled over
and she sat up with a start,
alone on the lap of the beach

What happens when we grow up?
she wondered, with a whirlpool
of pain in her chest,
what happened to all the things
we were going to do?

The sea was crashing into its borders,
a deep inner roar that unified the shore
and in time she became rooted in the sand,
made mellow by storms, swaying
with the trade winds:

Spun from light in silken threads,
melting into heated warm colors,
patterns of movement, a voice acapello
in tune with the musical revue
of the universe

Mira coursed back to the Gulf of Mexico,
crossing by boat to Sanibel Island,
the soft engine of time in the waves

In the early 1700s people left Georgia
to find a Gulf Coast safe harbor;
arriving by the 1760s in the old home
of the Calusa, they lived with and married
the Spanish, fishing and sailing the waters

Many years later, during the Seminole wars
the “Spanish Indians” sought refuge
in the Myakka Basin
and went south to the Everglades
to join the Miccosukee

From the hotel Mira could see miles
of glittering white sand littered with shells;
cumulus clouds spun off to form a wall
of pearl gray and pink light, delicate
marble at the horizon

Gazing across the streaming sea
she felt herself floating
in a small light boat of history

Far out over the ocean a cloudbank
surged toward shore, battleship grey lines
of rain slanted down

The ocean cringed and darkened
beneath the onslaught;
incandescent blues and greens
measured out time before the storm
with increasing delicacy

Evening came, wingbeats, wingbeats
over the sand; Mira threw open her arms
to welcome the storm’s fierce blast:
despite the shores of war and seas of loss,
she felt a favoring wind

To read the preceding chapters, please begin with the Prologue

Children of the Moon, Chapter 16: Twilight Voyagers


Laurel gazed out the window, a thin line
of love and pain cycling between memories:
Grandma Wing had died of a stroke

Uncle Joe, packing up, pointed to a box:
These are for you;
and he handed her a book; on the flyleaf
she spotted her grandmother’s name:
These all belonged to Grandma Wing?

Most of them, yes; some belonged
to her husband and some to her parents;
they’re yours now.

Aunt Ida came in from the garden:
She left us the house on the beach;
we can go there weekends and holidays;
I know you’ll love it, Laurel,
and it will be a good way to remember her.

Days later, Laurel and Mira drove to see
a renegade circus act on a ranch;
arriving at the ranch house a shiver
ran through them and they turned to one another
with expressions of horror and dismay

Mira thought of the widow, Blanca Cors
who had since moved away. Did anyone
remember? So many people had been incensed,
but now seemed to have forgotten
their frenzied rage.

Two Royal Poinciana trees were united
in one crimson canopy above a sea-green lawn,
and a private road swung up a gentle slope
where people were making their way
to a corral where men worked on a high wire

The sun was eclipsed by the earth
and all around the world was transformed
into the charred remains of an interplanetary fire

Spotlights switched on, focused on the wire
sixty feet above; there was no net:
this was pure circus, greater than reality;
and the performers were in their element,
ascending the ladder to the platform

A man walked out a few feet before turning back;
in a moment, he reappeared on a bicycle,
riding across as the crowd held its breath;
from the far side the man returned, pedaling
the bike backwards as the crowd cheered

Two men walked onto the tightrope
holding balancing poles; one kneeled
while the other stepped onto his shoulders;
as they straightened up, a gust of wind
knocked them off balance

Laurel fought to keep her balance,
feeling the drift of the universe below her feet,
as one man caught the wire with one hand,
his pole slicing into the moonless night,
and the other swung around to a sitting position

The men regained their balance
and Mira turned away to see the house
lit by spotlights, and in that instant she knew
that someone knew, more than one person knew
what had happened to Blanca Cors

At daybreak, Mira came outside
to find Solis lying on the porch,
body swollen and eyes glazed;
she saw the wound on his side:

A young veterinarian examined him
and returned, shaking her head:
I’m sorry, he was bitten by a rattlesnake;
and Mira said: He came home to me,
and I wasn’t there to help him.

The vet told her gently:
There was probably nothing you could do;
he’s unconscious and won’t suffer.
Mira had known the danger,
but never been afraid before

Bowing her head to the hammering sun,
she sought refuge in the forest
and borderlands

Nothing was the same; birdsong faded,
pine logs rotted and leaves moldered,
the air was stifling; fear disturbed
her balance, goaded her into watchfulness
for the mistake, the flaw in the flow of life

Everything dissolved in a single moment;
she gave herself up to the absolute
sensation of standing still

But an inexorable pendulum swung
and she found herself moving again;
passing the field with its one tall pine,
she glimpsed something out of place,
drawing her into its immediate space

Her eyes fixed on the line, sodden
and sedimentary, like lava thrown
from a volcano taking on a separate life

A huge rattlesnake was sunning itself,
a long tunnel into oblivion in the solid field;
everything around it disappears into it
in pools of misery,
shocks of sorrow

The snake was wound out on the ground
in long graceful curves, but still able to strike;
its sixteen rattles reverberated in the grass

Coming closer, observing its apathy,
she saw that it was wounded,
torn along one side

Mira knew she could kill it,
but she realized there were two killers
on the field that day,
and Solis was more likely the attacker;
the snake had done no more than defend itself

She was horrified by the dual tragedy
and left the field of combat,
the hot dry baking world, the silent agony,
deep in a compassion for all
living beings that must die

A giant sun touched down, as if it would roll
across the land and engulf the world in fire;
Mira threw her belongings in a worn bag;
her aunt’s car rumbled to a stop by the porch
and Mira took flight

She held her breath:
her mother or one of her sisters or brothers
might see her and call her back;
then again, her aunt said as she climbed in,
she might not be missed.

The highway was filled with twilight voyagers,
tourists and haulers and others on the move,
spinning out a high-pitched whistle
as they broke the sound barrier
outside Mira’s motel window

She was near the airport, and could see
the earth ascend to swallow planes
without a sound, and then they reappeared
with a roar on bald runways
huge against the sky

In the moonlight, a tropical plant was glowing;
and Mira felt alone with another life,
a life going on inside her that traveled ahead,
a light throwing back a shadow
of the person she would become

Illustration by Forrest S. Clark

To read the preceding chapters, please go to the Prologue.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 15: Gulf Stream

Laurel slept submerged in a dream:
walking on a country road, sensing a presence
she glanced at the sky: an eagle flew above her
and whenever she turned, the eagle followed,
red darting tongue and yellow eyes seeking

In the distance she saw a small town on a knoll,
but in the field before her, there was debris:
new homes in ruins; where did this devastation
come from? And she mused, one of these homes
might be her own

A group of people approached her;
she began to raise her hand to greet them,
when she noticed they were brandishing guns
and clubs; she ran into a damaged home
and hid behind a broken wall

The eagle had grown huge, but the mob
seemed not to see it, not until its shadow
plunged the area into darkness;
she watched as the eagle dropped straight down,
talons outstretched, eyes like lasers

At the last instant the mob saw the eagle
and scattered in all directions;
still Laurel lingered in her hiding place,
while the eagle flew high again to circle the field
and the town, wheeling around and around

From her place of refuge, she watched in wonder:
the eagle was not leaving or leading her,
but instead waiting for her to decide
where she would go, and then follow
not to harm but to protect her

Will was twisting in his sleep,
waking with the worry:
I don’t know who I am, and not wanting
to hurt anyone, I’ve left them alone
and hurt them more.

He signed on to a fishing boat,
and at Pompano helped the crew
stock up on fresh vegetables,
sweet potato pies
and Indian River oranges

Riding the Gulf Stream, the trawler swept past
Cape Canaveral’s silent silver buildings,
and the jutting docks at Jacksonville

Evening came, and channel bells tolled;
dozing, a thought jarred him:
I want the truth, no matter what.

Off the coast of Georgia he fell asleep
dreaming down, down beneath the ship
into the reaches of the sea
where shadows breathed
and surf echoed

The ocean’s roar in a huge shell of coastline
and the larger shell, bell, of the sky,
woke him, filling every pore of his body
with alarm and fascination,
kick-starting survival mode

On deck through slashing rain
and great rolling shadows,
he saw in the darkness a darker shape
outlined by a row of seesawing lights,
and men in the waves like gloves flung down

In the night they were all around
as Will clambered into a lifeboat:
Will they drown, will they all be carried away?

Will and others reached out to help
a fortunate man into the only lifeboat;
a fist of a wave knocked Will overboard
and carried him willy-nilly
into the body of another man

Will held the wounded sailor,
cradling his head in the rollicking surf,
swimming at cross purposes to the sea

Glistening pummeled by wind and waves,
he kept the man in his grip, as ghosts
hovered, seahorses teeming in the rain

Moonlight flowered when the storm
flew away; Will thought: I am blind and I see;
I am lost and found, and lost and found again.

A light spun and a beam pierced him
and he felt a swift grating on his skin,
the hard husk of the shore;
his breath shallow and labored,
he carried the fisherman to the beach

First responders rushed up to take the man,
still breathing, still alive; and Will rested
in the familiar hand of land

Amid the shouts of rescuers,
his brother’s image surfaced:
How many people might my brother have saved?
How many been buoyed by his kindness
and his courage?

Will rose to his feet to help survivors
from the tumultuous surf, until drenched
and shivering, he collapsed on the shore

Lost and found; and the thought that once sank
into the Everglades’ outcast womb came to him
on the other side of the whirl, world of his rage:
In spite of all that I have lost, and never will regain,
my life can be of value to myself and others.

To read The Prologue, click here.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 14: Fever Grass

bassroadTo read the preceding chapters, please start with the Prologue

Dust hovered around fence posts, cattle,
clumps of palmetto like the rings of Saturn,
grass withered into loose strings
and small animals crept from one prison
of shade to another

Frogs crouched by rivulets of water,
lungs beating hard, when Mira came to the river,
stepping over fallen columns of reeds;
she sheltered in charcoal shade to peer
into the glare above an eroded gully

The lone elm stood sentinel over the elusive river,
and she folded herself beneath the tree,
and became aware of an overwhelming silence
that created its own noise, a humming that came
and went, as if she were dozing and waking

Heat beat with miniature propeller blades,
spun away to slice tall grass, lop off cows’ ears,
chop down trees; in this swept and desolate place
Mira was a singular wheel turning on her own axis,
strong as oak, flexible as palm

The solitude drew her farther into the wild,
and with Solis beside her, inseparable,
they followed every sound, lifting their heads
to a bird’s long note, registering each change
in light, of its shift across their eyes

There were no paths;
Mira climbed rail fences thinned to the point
of breaking, and crossed cattle guards
of loose and weathered wood;
she had never been this far out

She spotted a red-shouldered hawk
on a pine branch surveying the fields;
Solis trotted sideways ahead of her

A piece of pine bark at her feet unfolded,
revealing two green luminous streaks
that hopped away, making her laugh,
watching it plunge into a swamp
rimmed by palmetto’s armadillo-like trunks

Mid-day she and Solis entered a savannah
and her hands brushed clusters of tiny white flowers
atop waist-high stems: Osceola’s plume:
native people and pioneers pounded its roots
to produce crow-poison

She walked through blue-eyed grass,
its petite flowers massing for effect;
her father told her a medicinal tea
was made by boiling the plant and roots,
giving it the name fever grass

A stream drifted down to the river;
snowy egrets, once hunted to near extinction
for their flowing silk-white feathers
to adorn ladies’ hats and dresses,
rose to fly to a distant maze of mudflats

In a central glade, among downed trees
and mushrooms as large as waffles
perched on rotting logs,
her feet sank into rich earth,
pushing into a piece of wood

She picked it up, turned it in her hands:
it had an odd shape, larger at one end
with several knobs: a bone, she realized,
wrapped it in leaves, put it in her knapsack
and retraced her way home

On the dusty driveway she waved
to her father; and he greeted her:
Mira, where’ve you been?
She answered, undoing her knapsack:
Way out. In the swamp.

I found something; a bone, big enough
to be a cow or a bear.
She held it for him to inspect

Her father flinched, his face riddled
with recognition and terror:
That’s human, he said, and large enough
to be an adult; his voice choked:
we have to call the Sheriff.

Mira stared at her father’s stricken face,
searching for his usual calm:
I can take you to the place I found it,
she offered, but he nodded no:
Wait until I talk to the police.

Sheriff, deputy sheriffs, met them
a half hour later; and she set off with the posse
through the woods, trying to recall her steps
but afraid to stop too long to let any confusion
set in, following her intuition

She saw the marsh and the path
she made before; sunlight shafted
into the glade: there was a frame of sorts,
collapsed and rotting and odd shapes,
which at first could be taken for roots

Forming a circle around the spot
several deputies pushed aside detritus
and slowly revealed another bone and
then another; a skull began to appear,
and the circle tightened, voices raised

Mira felt a hand on her shoulder
guiding her away; she stumbled up the slope
from the deep moist shade:
all she could think about, all she could see,
were the corroded bones

Evening came, fireflies sizzled from the grass;
Mira waited for her father late into the night
but he never came home

In the morning she read the headline:
Woman’s Body Found in A Swamp;
and the heat was a living being moping by,
pickled with alcohol, an odor
that filled into the home and yard

A single engine plane humming overhead
drew Mira out of the house
and across the amputated road’s end,
into the fields, dreaming into the sky,
just as her father drove up

Mira joined him on the porch;
he lit a cigarette, saying:
I know Blanca Cors. A beautiful woman,
and a kind person. And this woman they’ve found,
who would do something like that?

He exhaled a plume of smoke:
After her husband died, Blanca was alone;
their only child disappeared years ago;
I used to stop by her house after work
to talk and tend her roses.

Mira was surprised, and he said:
The Royal Poinciana in her yard
have sturdy trunks, delicate leaves, bold flowers.
She asked me to plant them as markers
for her lost son and husband.

Leaves slithering in wind at the edge
of the yard seized Mira’s eye;
heat lightning flickered in the distance;
cigarette smoke wreathed his face:
I thought they might suspect me in her attack.

Mira saw her father’s cigarette flare:
I have to go, Mira. I can’t stay here anymore;
you’re almost grown and can take care of yourself;
whenever you need advice, you can always go
to your grandmother and her family.

The jeep swept around the track,
red taillights winked behind a screen
of tangled oak, grapevine,
pop ash and pine;
and then silence

Children of the Moon, Chapter 13: Sea Change

In Miami Will sank into the city’s tropical soul,
savoring the cultural and culinary flavors,
but before long he took to the open sea,
sailing to ports in South America, Africa,
Asia, India, China and Malaysia

He heard the songs of genesis, exodus
and revelation in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian,
Caribbean, Mediterranean, and the Persian,
South China, Arctic, Caspian
and the Black, Red and Dead Sea

On returning to Miami, he joined a crew
treasure hunting; the captain said:
there’s treasure down below, down below
in vaults, from pirate ships,
man o’ war, and Spanish galleons

Will and the other divers donned their gear
and fell into the sea’s salty embrace:
another world opened before them

In the beguiling hold of the sea,
Will explored a ridge of storm-swept sand,
and spotted the glitter of gold and silver coins
large as his hands; he scooped them up
and clutched them to his beating heart

Rising to the surface he felt a surge
of exhilaration, for the first time
since his brother’s sentencing,
and he thought, this is what life should be,
this is what can heal me.

He broke the surface, gasping for air
and rejoicing in the freedom of breathing,
he cupped his hands to hold the coins
to the sun, with a cry of elation,
ready to be amazed

In the full wash of daylight he saw
twisted bits of metal, wave-broken shells
and small change

On board he saw others with the same debris,
picking out coin-shaped metal;
when he challenged them, they shrugged
and sneered with a pirate’s wink:
If people believe it’s valuable, what harm?

The captain called Will aside:
You are causing disruption, undermining
the others’ belief, and we all need to believe;
behind Will’s back he whispered:
I think he’s stealing. Watch him.

Will packed his things to leave,
while only one man came to say goodbye:
an old treasure hunter, a grizzled veteran
who had once discovered treasure
that was real and knew the difference

He sighed as he told Will:
The dance of illusion will last as long as the truth
is hidden, as long as it is in our interest to comply,
deny and lie; but you have re-opened my eyes;
he shook Will’s hand: Go now, my headstrong friend.

Will fell into a stupor: everything was the same;
but change was all around him;
he breathed the sulfur of igniting despair,
and guilt was the thing that burned:
I am betraying Sandy by being away.

On her bunk bed Mira lay in oceanic darkness,
outside, wet black paws of rain fell,
scrabbling at the side of the house

The only light a single candle burning
beneath the windowsill, tight as infection;
with anguish and pride interweaving,
the way she braided her younger sister’s hair,
she thought of her dreams and her sister’s dreams

In her hand she held a postcard from Will:
a harbor city crouched by emerald water,
heat-blanched sky and lofty linen white clouds;
a sea change: she felt Will sequencing
away from her, away from love

Her father sat with her on the front porch
after the rainstorm had trooped away:
Remember, he said, Apaksi means hope;
and she nodded, and said she would,
but she felt the world drifting away

In the morning, Laurel and Mira waited
by Morris Rubra’s swinging gate,
fresh dew stinging their tense faces

He strode up to them, his gait light
and his face a landscape of relief,
his hands shaped like mittens

I’m trying to get Sandy’s sentence overturned,
he told them, and see if he will be released
or given a new trial.

Their voices sounded like bells, chiming
in unison: Do you think it’s possible?
Yes. He smiled. It’s a life-saving mission.

To read the Prologue, click here. You can follow the chapters from there.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 12: Solitude

To begin reading Children of the Moon, see the Prologue.

Laurel visited her grandmother:
Why didn’t I go with him that day?
Grandma Wing waved her hand:
How could you know what would happen?
But, Laurel said: I can’t help him.

The old woman snapped back:
Stand by him if you believe he’s innocent,
and you can overcome this;
you are farther rooted in the source
of all things than you can ever imagine.

Grandma Wing gives her a letter:
Your mother wrote this poem when young;
she called it “Sowing The Field.”

Bands of wheat fields flow gold and red
on a low road where clouds sweep overhead;
I walk among mountains steep and high
to catch spear-stalks of wheat as they fly

Reaching I grasp fleet arrows of wheat
as day yields to low clouds gold and red;
I watch each seed as it falls to my feet
through the reaping beat of my hands

Will wondered, too, why few believed
in his brother’s innocence;
he felt betrayed by friends and neighbors;
only a few said Sandy was the last person
they thought capable of violence

With most the rumors went viral:
he was always so quiet, so polite,
they had been fooled, or he was odd,
often alone, walking about
in a world of his own

Morris Rubra investigated and found:
There have been other incidents in the area,
and even several deaths that are unsolved.

In the ensuing hysteria the trial began;
Sandy’s guileless demeanor isolated him
and alienated the jury and the press;
he asked Morris Rubra if he seemed arrogant;
the lawyer replied: You appear to be too innocent.

With his family and handful of friends
in the courtroom, the judge sentenced Sandy
to prison; he turned to look at his parents:
his father’s face was granite,
his mother’s expression a frieze of grief

Morris Rubra began his appeal:
Never give in to despair,
I’ll do everything I can to see you free again.

A prison guard greeted him:
I have more respect for a man who comes clean
than one like you who never owns up.

You’re a coward, the guard said,
and probably feel like a genius
for getting away with other killings;
we know we’re putting an end to a lot
of suffering if we put an end to you.

The moon’s pale engravings on the cell wall
wove a pattern of loss and sorrow
as the knowledge of evil streamed in,
and this revelation caused the greatest pain
of all, and Sandy wept for the human condition

Not far away, in another town, a man
only a few years older than Sandy,
was arrested for the murder of a teen-aged girl;
he was convicted, sentenced to life in prison
and brought to a cell next to Sandy’s

He watched Sandy suffer with pleasure:
in a corrupt world there was no justice,
he thought in gratification of his cynicism;
better to embrace the chaos
and take whatever you can.

Blanca Cors recovered from her injuries
but was unable to identify her attacker;
Will’s anger erupted with Morris Rubra:
I can’t help my brother, or save him,
and I hate everybody who’s turned against him.

The older man counseled him:
Don’t let this make you bitter,
or lose your trust in people.

The wind in the pines was a fugue,
and in the sky and river a tomblike gloom;
Mira tried in vain to comfort Will,
and Morris Rubra to give him hope,
but Will was inconsolable

When Will fled to the coastal solitude
of Casey Key, he found brief respite;
on the beach he saw a group of teens his age,
threatening to rupture the amniotic sac
of light and wind that enwombed him

They waved to him, and he recognized each
one just as they closed in,
casting tall shadows on the sand;
the Gulf galloped over rocks and moss
glistened like sweat on horses’ flanks

Voices broke the hypnotic pulse of surf,
reverberating around him
and riding roughshod into his brain:
Hey, Will. We’re going to the rodeo.
Are you?

He tried to smile:
Yes, I’m coming to the rodeo; I’ll be there;
he knew he should be grateful for their loyalty,
for their attempted normalcy,
but these people belonged to a past illusion

Will told his father and added, my world
before god turned away;
his father threw up his hands: God?
We people bind our innocence in fear and lies,
and trot out the worst in ourselves with pride.

But doesn’t god give us that ability?
His father reflected a moment:
It doesn’t mean we have to use or develop it;
we can be the way Sandy is, so much like my parents,
and your grandparents, in kindness and humility

They were such good people, so decent
it makes me cry to remember them,
and they not only existed — they flourished.

Will was no longer listening;
his grandparents were killed in a highway accident,
on their way home from visiting the family;
there was no justice, no reward for being good,
and happiness was an illusion

Will dropped out of school, taking odd jobs
and one day hit the road; he was riding through
the Everglades when the moon’s sudden reflection
in a pond fired off a thought;
the marsh whisked by and the thought was lost

Children of the Moon, Chapter 11: Sacrifice

In the morning police cars pulled up
to the ranch house door;
an officer spoke to Will and Sandy’s parents:
We need to ask your son, the oldest one,
some questions.

Sandy? About what?
The officer replied: The assault on Blanca Cors;
he was seen near her home that day.

His mother cried out when Sandy was led
to the patrol car; as his father ran for his car,
she leaned down by the window
to look Sandy in the eye:
We’ll be right there.

In the interview, Sandy was asked:
What were you doing in the area?
and he reflected:
Just walking, hiking, looking at things
and . . . Sandy hesitated

He could not mention visiting Primitivo
and so he fell silent, protecting a friend
many would be too willing to sacrifice

The interrogator moved in:
You’re hiding something. What is it?
Sandy shook this off:
I was out walking; I didn’t hear
or see anything.

The man retorted: Nothing?
and then Sandy remembered:
There was a man; I think it was a man,
in a field; when I looked again
he was gone.

The officer’s voice turned sharp:
So you saw a man?
Or did you see her and want her?

Sandy bowed his head, folding his arms
across his chest, surprised at the rage
in his questioner’s voice

The man leaned in to bleat into Sandy’s ear:
She was beautiful, and you couldn’t help yourself.
What did you do to her?

Sandy’s silence was his answer,
as he began to understand his innocence,
all innocence is beyond proof by reason,
and cannot be revealed in words,
no matter how clear and eloquent

His brother and parents arrived at the station
and are informed of Sandy’s arrest for assault
on the wealthy widow, Blanca Cors

Sandy? His mother cried in disbelief:
Everyone who knows him knows
he is gentle and caring;
but the sergeant answered her:
We have reason to believe differently.

Sandy was brought into the hallway, handcuffed
and flanked by officers; his father spoke to him:
Sandy, we’ll fight this. Don’t give up.

At the arraignment, Morris Rubra argued for bail,
but the judge said:
Juveniles are the most dangerous.

The prosecutor pressed his case:
There is evidence of malice and depravity
and although he is 16, we ask he be tried
as an adult; Blanca Cors is fighting for her life,
so charges may be upgraded.

In his cell, Sandy told Morris Rubra:
I was leaving Mulberry Ranch
and saw Primitivo; it was neither of us.

The lawyer said he believed him, but:
We must respond to the accusations;
and Sandy mused:
Why do people assume the worst
about others and so quickly?

Morris Rubra’s reply echoed in the cell:
They don’t want to look too closely
into their own hearts.

After a moment the lawyer commented:
You give people the benefit of the doubt;
many, however, feel that others
have let them down, deceived them
or forsaken them for no good reason

But, he said, I’ve found the reason
for assuming the worst is often for power
and domination;
and he asked Sandy:
Don‘t you feel the need to dominate?

I feel the need to escape from domination,
Sandy said, and he opened his hands:
Why can’t people see that I’m innocent?

Morris Rubra said, with a wry laugh:
It’s hard to know who’s innocent
by looking at them or watching them;
I’ve known people who smile and charm,
but by gumbo, were the most guilty.

So how can I defend myself, or be defended,
when any defense opens the door to guilt,
and any defense can be seen as a pretense?

The lawyer said:
That’s a good question,
and one I’ve tangled with a long time.

Sandy paced the cell:
In defending myself I’ll become self-righteous;
and he was surprised at Morris Rubra’s response:
You leave the self-righteousness to me;
I excel at it.

Sandy saw the irony:
Aren’t you sacrificing part of your better self
when you do that?
Morris Rubra raised his brows:
Yes; but I’ve chosen to make that sacrifice.

To read the Prologue, click here. You can read the following chapters from there.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 10: Primitivo

To read The Prologue, click here. You can read all the following chapters starting there.

On the weather-cured porch Mira’s father said:
A woman was attacked last night; blood all over
the home; her name was Blanca Cors, a widow.

Mira held her breath until her father told her:
She’s alive and they think she’ll recover.
Mira ran to the ranch, calling for Will and Sandy;
they had heard the news, and she told Sandy:
We saw Primitivo running from the home of Blanca Cors.

Primitivo was not at his cabin, but under the elm,
arms and legs sprawling like roots;
What happened? Will asked him.

Primitivo gathered himself:
I heard a signal of distress and ran toward it;
a woman’s scream;
and he lowered his head:
I turned and ran away.

We heard it too, Will told him,
But when we came to the house
it was too late.

Primitivo took recognizable shape:
I thought of the price of cowardice
and came back; he had carried her away
into the swamp, and so I followed with a howl
that came from my pain.

I thought I saw someone, Sandy said,
a stranger, but I did not see his face;
come back to the cabin with us.

Will told Primitivo:
They will suspect you;
but Primitivo was making another connection:
The woman’s voice was like music,
music I’ve heard before.

On the way it began to rain
and at the cabin Morris Rubra was pacing
in the oak hammock’s shelter;
Mira’s knees shook as she ran to him:
We’re afraid they’ll think Primitivo did it.

Morris Rubra nodded and took Primitivo aside;
they spoke in spiked tones;
Go on home, Morris Rubra said to the children,
his hands prayer-gripped together:
I’ll see what I can do.

Hours later, Mira’s father called to her:
Come with me;
she hopped into the jeep; at the airport,
a scar of concrete and a hangar in a fallow field,
Morris Rubra’s plane was on the runway

Mira gasped, recognizing the hulking figure
in the back seat: Shadow!
and then she whispered: Primitivo.

The plane flew over plains and chains of lakes;
at the end of a circuitous river launching
over a great expanse of water:
Lake Okeechobee, corralled by levees,
drowned in polluted sediment

Dipping down they landed on an airstrip
plowed into wetlands, edged by dunes,
near the Seminole reservation

Primitivo familiarized himself with his new home:
Black-calabash, dwarf cypress, everglades
and rough leaf velvet seed, and silver palm

On the flight home the moonlight was beaten silver
on the lake, and streams shimmered through grass
and sandy runes, taking their breath away

Children of the Moon, Chapter 10: Border Road

To read the Prologue, click here.

Laurel moved through her grandmother’s home,
through her creation with its sense and sensibility
and memories of a life worth living;
Grandma Wing reigned sovereign over this world
and gave it a special radiance

Aunt Ida bowed her head to whisper:
She’s our Mae West, our Madonna;
a shocking, fearless adventuress

Grandma Wing told Laurel of her travels
with her husband, in the short span
between retirement and his death

Laurel was intrigued: All over the world?
Yes, all over the world; but I know I can’t have
that back again; so I might as well enjoy myself.

A smoking roast simmered in the oven
and fresh green beans in summer savory,
and a sauce only her grandmother knew;
Laurel set the table:
But what if you fall in love again?

Grandma Wing smiled:
I doubt that will happen, and anyway
it’s much too much trouble at my age;

The old woman faced Laurel:
Did you fall in love?
No, Laurel blushed,
and Grandma Wing laughed:
You will.

On the river, Mira looked to the western sky:
It’s late, she said: Wait, did you hear that?
Will listened; a whistling sound dropped
and spiked again:

They ran up the boat ramp near Mulberry Ranch
where killdeer whirred over a sandy field
shrieking kee – kee – keee

Another scream mingled with the wild abandon
of river, birds and wildlife;
Mira and Will walked towards the piercing cry
to see a man bolt from a manor house
on the neighboring ranch

Will turned with widened eyes to Mira:
Yes, yes, I think so, she replied;
They raced to follow him, calling his new name,
but Primitivo slipped away into darkness

They turned toward the house,
a sour taste of dread in their mouths
to the open front door

From the threshold they peered inside;
the house was quiet, crimson light pooled
on the floor, streaked the walls

Will broke the silence: No one’s here.
They ran with arms and legs at odds
back to the boat, and rode the river home;
an alligator glided by, watching them
with one red eye

The swamp’s mouth opened wide
and a silhouette of a man ripped at a woman
as if he could carve his name in her flesh

A corona of sun rested on every flower,
detailed every spike of tall grass;
a figure crashed into the swamp
and fox and deer went slinking away
in the bug-in-amber spell

On Border Road, Sandy saw a man kneeling,
tending to his crop; a sphinx moth whirled
its turbine wings,
and the breeze shifted into high gear;
but when he looked back no one was there

With Uncle Joe driving and Aunt Ida in the front seat,
crossing Border Road Laurel thought she saw Sandy
and started to wave, but he was walking away