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The Skylark Prize, Spring 2018
English Walpole

The Moon on Her Pillow
My grandmother didn’t watch the solar eclipse,
she felt it. From where she was lying in her bed,
sick and so close to giving up on living,
she felt the sky fall for two minutes. Her breath slowed.
She told me that when the moon moved over the sun
her bones were aching. They were hollow.
The sky was falling after all.

We shaved her head sometime afterward.
She had a little bit of fuzz left after the second round of chemo.
She said there was no point in having hair if you could not curl it,
couldn’t perm it from a kitchen bar stool.
She looked straight ahead through the window,
staring directly at the sun. Those brown eyes. My brown eyes.
Like river water, like rain.
She sat on her bed, rubbing blush into her cheekbones
with her fingers. My grandmother’s hair is on her kitchen floor.
She may have forgotten about it by now.
She looks up, sunshine soaking into her skin
from her bedroom window, light shining fierce on golden skin.
She is everything.

For two whole minutes, the sky fell outside her window.
She thinks it’s falling now.

At the end of the day, when she’s on her second cup
of coffee, she will look out the window directly at the sun.
Maybe this time, she’ll have that hair again.
Her doctor said if it grows back it’ll be really curly.
Her bones will not ache, they’ll be full again, not so hollow.
And this time she’ll be able to get up and watch the moon shade the sun.
Maybe when she sees it, lets it soak into her skin,
she will realize that the sky isn’t falling.
Not this time.

©2018 English Walpole