“Words She Taught Me” by Jeremy Moynahan

Dark river, what therefore must I do?

When the weight of heart & flesh,

lays pale & unmovable. Strung forward by your current

like leafs nearest a stream

kiss then all our memories, goodnight?


When bed meant her collarbone

on a midnight ride

our destination I can’t remember.

Only, the rhythmic punctuation of lamplight dye

Only . . .

in tunnel darkness, she wisped, “Mijo?”

the word warm with her breath

tapping the bend of my neck

I gave no response, a flutterlash of closedlids . . .


Still you spoke,

your heart to mine, beating through your breast


. . . “Noches, mi amor.” The meaning I did not know but felt.


Once, womb-locked

my heart

needed hers’

to beat.

What were those sweet words in the womb?


Dark river, it feels being ready is always waiting

and being able is stoned by Cain.

This morning stabs breath from the lung,

and cranes the spine with its snow.

How must we commit faithful acts of breathing

If those dearest have long lost breath?


Mother, when grandpa passed

So sudden while forsythia bloomed

I felt your tears tapping the bend of my neck,

The words warm with your breath

Wisping, “Mijo . . . noches mi amor.”

I cried too, though not in front of you, “Abuelo.”

My eyes could not lift to meet yours,

Only a flutterlash of closedlids . . . “Noches, mi amor.”

Dark river, what therefore must I do?


Jeremy Moynahan is a New Yorican poet unearthing Puerto Rican roots; of two minds and two tongues. Moynahan is a recent graduate of WWU, with a BA in English Lit.