Nocturne

by Charlotte Muse, Winner of the 2012 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize

Into the always mysterious air,
place of breath and wings,
the moon is rising

It reveals by its milky light
a dull gleam of wakeful eyes

The teeth of marauders

Outlines of mountains and trees—
enough to reassure

A path to itself, straight across the water
and then up

Where the owl’s nest is,
and its comings and goings
How the owl is its own shadow
and its shadow’s shadow

An expanse of field, whitened as if by tepid snow

The general in the square on his bronze horse
medaled with pigeon droppings

The beauty of a fish, if it lights on a fish

One bare arm of a soldier, dead on the field

His black blood
The cave of his open mouth
The sheen on a gun

The whitest statue in the churchyard

Moonlight in its mildness
like glib speech in what it leaves out

Like peace, which must overlook
so much

Charlotte Muse lives in Menlo Park, California. She received both her MA and her MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University, where she has taught creative writing and poetry. She also taught for some years as Instructor in Poetry for UC Berkeley Extension. She has won several prizes for poetry, including the 2011 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, two International Publication Awards from the Atlanta Review, the Yeats Society of New York’s Poetry Award, prizes in the Joy Harjo Poetry Award competition, the Feile Filiochta International Competition, and others. These days she tutors Hispanic children in reading, teaches private workshops, and spends as much time as possible at the bottom of a nearby dry creek bed staring off into space. Visit her website here.

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