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American Life in Poetry: Hunter's Moon

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American Life in Poetry: Hunter's Moon
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By Ted Kooser

This is our 300th column, and we thank you for continuing to support us. I realized a while back that there have been over 850 moons that have gone through their phases since I arrived on the earth, and I haven't taken the time to look at nearly enough of them. Here Molly Fisk, a California poet, gives us one of those many moons that you and I may have failed to observe.


Hunter's Moon

Early December, dusk, and the sky

slips down the rungs of its blue ladder

into indigo. A late-quarter moon hangs

in the air above the ridge like a broken plate

and shines on us all, on the new deputy

almost asleep in his four-by-four,

lulled by the crackling song of the dispatcher,

on the bartender, slowly wiping a glass

and racking it, one eye checking the game.

It shines down on the fox's red and grey life,

as he stills, a shadow beside someone's gate,

listening to winter. Its pale gaze caresses

the lovers, curled together under a quilt,

dreaming alone, and shines on the scattered

ashes of terrible fires, on the owl's black flight,

on the whelks, on the murmuring kelp,

on the whale that washed up six weeks ago

at the base of the dunes, and it shines

on the backhoe that buried her.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine.