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Matthew Moniz

The Way We Hold Each Other

An Old Woman with a Cat by Max Liebermann

My mother has just gifted me a wooden loon
because as a child I liked loons, the way
their moon-flecked feathers sat, the way
their whistle-howls lingered above lakes.
My childhood is more hers than mine.

When I visit now, without the contiguity
of youth, I see a more detailed face
and more strands of moon speckling
her head. In the moment her lungs sag
their last, I will sit balanced on water,
sending fluted whimpers to the night’s
white disk, and her life will be passed on
to me to hold, the way a gift is an object
within the presence of hands, the way a felled
tree makes no further sound until scraped
into a shape of flight, the way
time is the measurement of time
and happiness is the memory of happiness.

About the writer:
Matthew Moniz teaches English at Mississippi University for Women. Originally from the DC area, he has poems appearing in or forthcoming from The Iowa ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewMeridianTupelo QuarterlyFourteen Hills, and minnesota review. He has been awarded Poetry by the Sea’s Kim Bridgford Memorial Sonnet Crown Contest prize and the SCMLA Poetry Prize.

Image: An Old Woman with a Cat by Max Liebermann (1847-1935). Oil on canvas. 38 x 29.5 inches. 1878. Public domain.

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