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Discovering Moons
by Judith Valente

What happens, happens in silence.

We wake in a room your daughter painted

sunrise red. Daylight drips

through white linen curtains, feeds us intravenously,

Like Galileo with his scope

unearthing Jupiter's moons, we lie on our backs

on the white clay of our bed, chart constellations

of ceiling. That Y-pronged crack you call a ballerina

en pointe in fifth, her arms flung

above her about to slide into an arabesque,

I say is Christ strung upon his cross

moments after earth shuddered, temple curtain tore apart.

On a shelf in the living room

a brown box contains all that remains of your mother:

every pigment of bone, muscle, cilla, cartilage.

One day you will spread such fine matter

across the mining hills of Edwardsville,

the coast of Ventura, the prairie outside of Normal.

In soundless desert, astronomers discover new moons:

45 in the last six months around Jupiter alone.

There is so much I want to say to you

in a language without words. We orbit each other

like the moons circling Jupiter

in unconjugated space: Europa, Callisto, Leda, Ganymede, Thebe.

(First line is from "The Private Life" by Lisel Mueller)

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