from "Birth Chart"
This is a lunar fragment
for the scorpion child
who will not sleep, the stripes of his pajama shirt
against the dinosaurs of his pajama pants, the bonnie
he calls bunny who lies over the ocean, oh bring back
my bunny to me, oh
lie down, scorpion child
I had a strange Yom Kippur
insofar as I did not fast
insofar as I reread Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy
while the child slept on
me last time I read Lucy I shared a tent
with Chet by the snake
preserve, snakes on the desert floor
and in glass terrariums,
this was before we met our husbands.
Today a bee flew into my hair and became tangled in my half-knot, my scorpion mother pulled it out with her hands and was, unsurprisingly, stung.
I don’t know what happened to the bee.
The first time I read Lucy I couldn’t get over her mother’s letters,
how she hoards them in her room and won’t open them and won’t
read them, even the letter marked urgent. It occurs to me that I am fundamentally a person
who opens letters
and apologizes, which Lucy never seems to do, which is what Yom Kippur is for, or is supposed to be for, not that I spent it apologizing.
The day broke into night and the moon hung by halves and the scorpion child clutched my shoulders as if frightened by the brightness of the stars. I know even before I look it up
that Jamaica Kincaid is a Gemini. My moon is in Gemini
but I’m still learning what that means
At the Vermeer exhibit
the scorpion child called every lute
a guitar a white-haired woman
pointed at him and said I want you to remember this when you’re 15!
I wanted to say
he really doesn’t
have to that’s not how
art works I wanted to shout Vermeer was a Scorpio too you can tell
by the skin which always seems to be
on fire at air & space there are three stones
from the moon which I want to put in the poem without explanation
the way you could hide them in a neighbor’s garden and nobody would notice
basalt and we stood among the butterflies anorthosite where a pink-spotted cattleheart
refused to give up her Taurean secrets (typical) & a morpho perched on us both
at the same time for a moment
for some brave and stupid reason you let the volunteer convince you
to touch the Madagascar hissing cockroach hold the caterpillar hopper stick insect
the moon waxed from Pisces into Aries breccia which means nothing to me
On Nan’s birthday I kept trying to write a poem like here is a visitation for the scorpion queen
but the moon was waning all day in Libra and like
is Libra the thing about Nan which is also the thing about me
is we were both born under the new moon which explains why slash how
we write in the dark and can only read each other, the lines
opening up and into an unknowing which is its own way of saying nothing
writing is a lie that tells the truth or something
Nan does it even surprise you at all that Walter “Walt” Whitman was a Gemini?
Sometimes I can’t get away from that guy.
we were both born in the year of the ox and everyone in your life is a Taurus especially me
The scorpion stinger
is a steak knife, a just-in-case
they use when they can’t rip
grab tear their prey with their pincers. You said
the scorpion is going to Vicarstown which is a place
imaginary trains go by the tree
which was a cactus
Rachel Feder is an assistant professor of English and Literary Arts at the University of Denver. Recent poetry publications include a 2014 chapbook from dancing girl press and poems in OmniVerse and Glass; a new collection is forthcoming from Astrophel Press. A hybrid work of literary criticism and creative nonfiction, Harvester of Hearts: Motherhood under the Sign of Frankenstein, is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in 2018.