Golden Shovel Full of Darkness, Southern Flowers, and Moondust

after David Cloud Berman, 1967-2019

Of course he’d borrow a name from something brief as clouds,

how they fill then empty the sky, thinning in the dome, drift

until gone, as if we’d never seen them sprinting across

or scudding over mountains. Did he mean there were pictures in the

handles of knives and spoons, that after polishing, silverware

is just a set of sharp and portable mirrors? He’d often aim there,

between the breastplate and the strange, illustrating how poetry is

air, and music the deepest breath. The color of Virginia, red,

cored-out candy apple. The curving stalk of larkspur

and its difference from delphinium, petals conjoined, faded blue

as an airmail envelope, as the bricks of Hubba Bubba gum

we’d chew then stick on bedposts or under our chairs at school and

the way the blossoms look against the green and trailing ivy.

I remember him as a student, camping out in a ramshackle on a

cut-through. He was beautiful and I didn’t understand how a boy

that cool could feel so undeserving, that even if he kneels

he never feels forgiven. Elizabeth Street, the months before

giving birth to my first, his sweetness shown in his

gift of a sea turtle toy for my girl. He never went out of date,

until he took himself. This paper-airplane poem is, and

ever will be, only a blown kiss in the dark, crashing toward the

kind of piece that would be titled something like “The Moon,”

yet would only mention its subject as a parting shot. Just so, I

tried to avoid writing about this lost cowboy tangled in the past, forgot

that spurs can catch and unhorse. It’s impossible to reckon, to

calculate the lost kindness and uncoupled chords, not to mention

the tiny trumpets of those flowers, my wish to take the

end of one to my ear to hear him from the moon. 

Rebecca Hart Olander

Rebecca Hart Olander holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, Radar Poetry, and Yemassee Journal, among others. Collaborative work made with Elizabeth Paul is in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press) and online at Duende, The Indianapolis Review, Les Femmes Folles, and petrichor. Rebecca won the 2013 Women’s National Book Association poetry contest. Her first chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, was released by dancing girl press in the fall of 2019, and her debut full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2021. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press. You can find her at and @rholanderpoet.