Poetry November 2007

Calle Plácida Luz de la Luna

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“Street of Placid Moonlight”? Gimme a break.
My aunt’s Arizona subdivision
summoned all my Manhattan derision
—how corny, how gringo, how fake!

But when one night I took my daughter
out for a walk, the moon rode high, and lo,
the even sheen it cast across the faux-
adobe houses, and the way it caught her

exuberant small face, upturned in wonderment,
filled me with the kind of mild serenity
that had, coyotelike, eluded me
in every tranquil desert place we went;

not among the ironwoods and saguaros
but within that synthetic so-called estate,
I found calm indifference to the laws of fate
and a sudden lifting of all sorrows.

Past stagey aloes and transplanted mesquites,
beneath a cliché-encrusted moon,
we pottered along, perfectly in tune—
with what happy steps we walked those placid streets.

Ben Downing is the author of The Calligraphy Shop (2003), a book of poems. He lives in New York.
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