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The Moon Speaks of the Imposition of Morals


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The Moon Speaks of the Imposition of Morals

In the beginning they were pebbles

wedged within thin shoes,

the distraction of flint to hinder

the mind from the radiance

of what men would one day call

the natural world.

At other times they came as gadflies

presiding over the salt

of human effort

and as crickets or crows

or thunder that spoke the great vowels

of the separation of man and god.

Later men began to embrace

the beauty of the whip,

the beauty of the curve

of a naked arm raised against

arced sky, fallen

slap of leather and the roselike

scent emanating each dusk

from the pale, blistered skins

and rotten backs of saints.

But in the end it was language

that mastered the soul.

The establishment of words

as truth, as tenable fact,

heard first within the soft pall of mid-night,

susurrations of a flinching heart.

Hailey Leithauser

Antioch Review

Volume 62, Number 3

Summer 2004

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