I. new moon 1 II. waxing crescent moon 2 III. first quarter moon 3 IV. waxing gibbous moon 4 V. full moon 5 VI. waning gibbous moon 6 VII. last quarter moon 7 VIII. waning crescent moon 8 IX. new moon 9
1. as if inked blood stains wombs / into empty chambers, we spend nine months / in the dark. a child / i once babysat could only strike the keys / of a piano in a dusk room. he said / light lived too much / & music longed for the dead. alternative to dead: notyetborn. / when my brother was notyetborn, / he was normal as
2. could be with / spoon eyes & midnight wakes & / promises of more light in his future / more illumination in his full (moon) life. / fact: parents don’t outlive / children. fact: my parents weren’t / astrologists. fact: sometimes, I lie. you see,
3. the disorder pins / shadows & toolateclocks to cratered / hearts. later diagnosis = further seeped blood / medical help = slowed advance. tell me / about doctors & diagnoses / & I’ll tell you he was fourteen months when doctors said he would die / young. treatment would savor / the light / until the shadows knocked all doors down. somedays I hear them knocking
4. but breaking news / holds waves at bay. / technological advancements & medical / experts. ashes burned / back into bodies / toolateclocks dialed back / coffins resurfaced and emptied, miracles / from heaven (or miracles / from labs). wires strung through body, suspended skeleton. now / make him your test subject. find the elixir in new / treatment plans & / medicines & trials & one day / a cure will align. one day / his genes will reorder / one day / oneday. / onedays
5. passed like butterfly / wings. one day he died / with desire to be other kids / to be the dove / & not choke on olive branches / to be / something. one day he died / with desire to sink into the ground at disney / & consume only light & laughter until doves dug ditches and buried themselves. / make-a-wish was free / ice cream & carousal rides / & wondering / how many of your new friends will die / in a year / how many reach the top of the roller coaster / & how many lose momentum / halfway. & skipping / to the front of lines / & meeting costumed versions of digital characters. but when we returned, we learned how
6. seizures steal bodies, steal limbs, steal hearts / & more than one iteration: friends’ hearts, families’ hearts. packed into boxes and shipped / across the seven seas. returned only / to clench into fisted roses & murder / mystery threats: which seizure will be the grand finale? / we packed our hearts and we packed him
7. into hospice. fact: the maximum length of hospice eligibility is six months. / fact: he was on it for years. you see, doctors wrote eulogies / before he was gone. warned of death / with every trace of shadow. so his expected life span / always dwindled below the mark. / under this care
8. they reminded us food is life / & to empty stomachs is to empty / bedrooms. when he stopped eating & drinking & gathered debt in shed pounds he didn’t own, / we saw life debt taking back what it owned. we saw / the toolateclocks ringing true / and another fact:
9. my parents aren’t astrologists, / but even if they were, no telescope / can see the new moon.
-- Natalie Hampton is a junior at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Creative Writing Department. She has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the Harris County Department of Education, the Young Poets Network, the Pulitzer Center, and Ringling College of Art and Design. She serves as an editor at Polyphony Lit and Cathartic Literary Magazine. She has taken online workshops and classes with Iowa, Brown, and Sewanee.