Gird thy loins, inscribed above the door.
A carapace of lancet arches.
A warehouse stuffed to the transept
with unclaimed freight, wanton files,
a battered collage of cardboard boxes
sun-bleached and transcribed
into fables of shipping labels
we nearly went blind trying to right.
The training manual had promised
an array of flying buttresses,
an infrastructure to mirror the company line:
In the Beginning…
We sweated the scales and shouldered the scutes.
There were so many of us it was hard
to tell who was what and what was who,
even with the premise of overtime.
We were weapons of mass distribution.
We were soft spots, ambulatory.
We were lintel, fontanel.
We were hinges when something had to give.
We sorted the incoming missives
and countered every plaintiff’s motion.
We kept each other sane.
We dreamed in shifts.
Whether the route would prove viable
was beyond our concern.
Kneeling and needing more than the evolving confines
of hazard pay and conviction,
the plastron and the ouroboric whole,
we affirmed faith in direction, in our manifest volition
for that which conveys, that which carries
the moon on slow legs over the earth.
This poem is from a manuscript titled “Moon Songs,” inspired by the moon in all its mythological, scientific, and literary glory. Other poems from this manuscript have appeared in recent issues of Agave, Cactus Heart, Southern Pacific Review (out of Chile), and Unsplendid. Matthew teaches composition at California State University, Bakersfield.