by Ruth Moose

Runner-up, 2016 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition

“To be an antediluvian is an extremely proud and pleasant thing.” —Charles Dickens

More than a thousand years ago
      when I was young and silly, I believed
in sugar Valentines and ribbon flowers
              pinned in places of the heart.

A thousand years ago when
            I was wild and crazy-eyed I wanted
                             a world
            of thin white curtains blowing
           in warm breezes from wide sandy beaches.

A thousand or so years ago I loaded my arms
          and cracked my back with pages
in every word of the world’s ways until I knew
           everything and nothing.
                               Nothing at all.

                     Still I was happy.

A thousand million billion years ago I wore hats
           of every shape and color
         and purses that matched my skirts and jackets.

I marched with the merry go round crowds
                at the fair.

O, several million years ago I loaded my days
                with paper and coins
         traded towns and lives for those in chairs

A thousand shoes ago I ran with life, tripping and falling, rising only
            to run footpaths in flats and heels, leather and plastic, city streets.

                   I had long legs, tough heels,
            sweet toes                          and loved the race.
                   Loved the air.
                                            Loved. Loved. Loved.

                I was fleet of feet.

Now I am barefoot in this afterlife,

                                       limping and leaping, over tender stones
                                                            upturned and mossy.

RUTH MOOSE published stories in Atlantic, Redbook, the new renaissance, North American Review and many other places. Her stories also appeared in publications in England, Sweden, Denmark and South Africa. Some were broadcast on NPR. She has had Pushcart Awards, a MacDowell Fellowship, an NEA and teaching awards as a member of the creative writing faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill.