Sara Henning

I’m Not Saying Goodbye, I’m Thinking of the Moon

            Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation.
                                                —Buzz Aldrin, joining Neil Armstrong
                                                   on the moon’s surface

Let’s begin with magnificent desolation,
            the illicit son forged from a rogue Trojan planet

            and the Earth. She was young, didn’t know another
like her was co-orbital, hulking and transitory, owning

the legacy of his namelessness by heading straight
            for her. And when he reached her, she fantasized

that his magma oxidizing her continental plate and crust
            was only date plum, sun-split and cloying,

            spreading all over her. Only God’s Pear,
Jove’s Fire, any sticky moniker, she told herself, not his mantle,

jagged and inexorable, fusing with hers, and how she
            was more like a black sapote driven mad by ripening,

for how the magma branded her, for how a son now
            scattered like a palm seed with a defector’s escape

            velocity. She didn’t know how they would dissolve
together, etherize, then sidle into the shared silicate

vapor atmosphere heavy as placenta, or how the child
      would hold hard to her torque, would anoint her

orbital period with a radiance that would turn every
            scar his father left on her to braids of gypsum.

            How could I not crave this turncoat angel who tidally
locks his body to everything he loves night after night,

how could I not see his basaltic plains scorched
            on the insides of my eyelids during times of syzygy,

when he’s moving over the sun with such unhurried
            circumference he’s got to be inside of her? Remember,

            even with your name in my mouth and your hands
under my dress, I’m only a girl running past the crab

apple tree where my mother buried every cat we loved
            and lost in old t-shirts, and even

with my bare feet pounding the smooth night silt,
            I can hear her singing them under soil.

            I’m a girl stripping off the nightshirt I’m clutching
at my knees, as though later, when I can see him

throbbing through my bedroom window’s open lace,
            I can almost forget the other girls lying

there, thighs disgraced with light, beckoning him
            in full perigee. And when I sleep now, I’ll dream

            that he, not you, is caressing my hair
with incandescence. He’s the one slipping out of my bed,

swollen, and satisfied, and back into transience, before
            I have the good sense to wake.

Author Portrait

Sara Henning is the author of A Sweeter Water (Lavender Ink, 2013), as well as two chapbooks, Garden Effigies (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming) and To Speak of Dahlias (Finishing Line Press, 2012). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Connotation Press, Crab Orchard Review, Greensboro Review, and RHINO, and anthologies such as Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (2013). She holds an MFA from George Mason University, and she is currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Assistant Managing Editor for the South Dakota Review.