The Man in the Cellar
Under the Influence of Moonlight
by Al Gabor
by Al Gabor
If he stands on a chair,
tilts his head into a cobweb,
the man in the cellar can see
the moon skewered by an antennae,
like a prawn ready for the grill.
Hard to believe
this same suburban moon
makes the oceans blossom into waves.
He stares at the moon,
and thinks about his father,
about the new growth the doctors found.
He holds a feather
left by a grackle
that appeared there yesterday,
leaving runny birdshit
on papers and books,
clawing over keyboards,
flailing against the windows
whenever anyone got near.
The man in the cellar goes back
to the blue screen,
where he tends furrows of light.
God has forgotten me,
Grandpa said. He was 84.
Every night he saw ghosts.
Grandma prayed with him in Polish.
She was twenty again, carrying their
first child. While he undid
her long gold braid, she talked of
heaven, clearing the southern fields
for corn, the calf born with a
tumor where the eye belonged.
One night Aunt Mary found Grandpa outside,
burying teeth pried from his dentures.
It was all I could think about
when I saw his ashen face in the casket:
An old man kneeling in the moonlight,
pushing kernals of teeth into the ground.
Was it an act of penance? Of surrender?
Did he hope for one last harvest--
a flower bright as a comet,
its roots a long pale braid?
Or was it simply this--before something can unfurl skyward,
it must first be buried?
After dusk darkened the windows,
the grackle disappeared up the lighted
stairs and out the door.
The man stood in the doorway,
his breath becoming opaque,
waiting for the grackle to light
in the bare trees
rooted in the sky.
Published in Cream City Review , Vol 21.2