Goodnight Moons by Ellen Kuper Halter

+++++First Moon

In this great green room
+++++of memory,
+++++a telephone and red balloon,
+++++and baby,
+++++ah yes, the baby,
+++++a round-faced
+++++pummelo
+++++plunked down on my lap.
+++++.
He scratches the page
+++++and I point to the jewel
+++++in the sky.
+++++“Da,” says he,
+++++“There,” says me,
+++++breasts seeping milk all the while.

+++++Second Moon

Under the gray dome of sky,
++our president
++took the general rowing
++on the Kennebunkport,
++secrets blowing out to sea,
++their wives sharing tea that Sunday.

You were eight
++when they burned Kuwait,
++tanks lumbering
++like tired elephants
++across the sand.

You were eight
++when you martialed GI Joes
++in the schoolyard,
++invading and defending
++in a boyish coven.

Our president and generals
++Were boys like you,
on their knees at recess,
outstriking and outflanking friends.

Now they sip martinis,
++grind heels into ant hills
++and joke about attacks.

In this dreary world
++Where no moon glitters
++a mother switches off the TV.
++Good night news,” says she.

+++++Third Moon

In this gray room,
++its cloud-covered moon,
++rain drums
++its cruel beat.

Black-bearded and gaunt,
++you, my grown son
++Sartre and Camus,
++preaches life’s meaning
++to me.

I am the old lady who whispers hush,
++breasts slack and empty.
++“Hush,” I say, “Hush.
++It will all be over
++soon.”

*This title is a play on the title of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic tale for infants and toddlers called Goodnight Moon. In addition, I have appropriated some phrases from that book.

In 1999, Ellen received a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Wayne State University. After several years of adjunct teaching positions, she retired to work full-time on a young adult novel and poems. Although “Goodnight Moons” came to her twelve years ago, she has revised it in the intervening years.