Karen Sagstetter

Not a Harvest Moon

This isn
t a full strawberry moon
or a full corn moon.  Not an egg or milk moon.
Not a full sturgeon moon, a beaver, buck or wolf moon.
Nor is it a hunter
s moon, a snow moon, a full cold moon.
I wish it were a harvest moon, but it is not.
If it were a flower moon, we
d be skipping
on the patio but no, it
s a new moon, 
barely visible the first night out
just a sliver in a black sky
until it waxes buoyant and dazzling    
tempting us with the idea
that light follows darkness
every time.


The boys yahooing
at farm girls on the way
to their marches.
The good plowmen
turning under dead stalks,
traces of cornsilk or
the memory of it,
on a gorgeous morning.
What a country for you and I
to walk in, more than a hundred fifty harvests later,
in the same September fields.
Thousands died.

Brother is a beautiful word.
I have always loved to say it.


I was a girl with two
big brothers. You had the earth’s
own brown eyes. You were my pride
in white linen suits,
so handsome at Easter time
people stopped us after
church to look.
Our mother and father made us all three
be in their picture.


There’s a cornfield that streamed blood
now a park for families
the young soldiers aimed at each other
the withering stalks made poor cover
soil ran maroon with bodies
horses were mules were horses


Our brother lives under bridges
in cities. We used to be his best
friends, now he likes
booze best. There are people
who want to arrest him,
mother’s littlest boy
calling to her on tiptoe.


The embrace of the hills was no comfort
noisy with horses screaming
the fields could be green
couldn’t be green

He rolled hard toward the town river
like a log     over and over
we went running for him
interrupted him     lifted him
picked him up
your arm under his faltered head
my arms holding his knees
I cried so much
they could never make me stop

Karen Sagstetter has published poetry and fiction in numerous literary journals, two chapbooks of poetry, two nonfiction books, and The Thing with Willie, a collection of linked stories. She  studied in Japan as a Fulbright journalist and worked as senior editor for many years at the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries and at the National Gallery of Art. 



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