after an early evening swim in the river, my mother-in-law, Tanya, stops, takes money from her purse, and holds it up to the crescent moon. Get out of the road first we tell her. She’s not the type to fuss about herself. Tanya entreats the growing moon to make her money grow: she reaches her arms up, each hand clamping an end of a bill, and lines it up with the slight white crescent as though she is sighting a target. Tanya’s gesture has stopped us in our tracks and I notice the joy in me, walking home in the summer twilight, darkness seeping into our clothes from our swim suits, as though we get to take some of the evening with us. Tanya holds her bill up to the nascent light, and I see the whole place: the sky blue like jungle frogs and the trees like people waiting for a bus, silhouettes huddled on the side of the road, together in their relation to the sky, the moon, and the breeze like a celestial breath, a half-serious dispatch or sigh of relief from the hills downstream. Tanya stretches to the sky and I see the strangers leaving the store and the family stopped for a superstition on their way home, children all of us in this liminal hour and moment of superfluous faith and the store like a paper bag around a candle, and the paths like oaths, and the apartment buildings like bed sheets hung out to dry and the cry of a cat and the child’s call for his mother like plunks of pennies in the pool of twilight. Everything is kindred, and everything is beautiful because Tanya stopped to show her money to the moon.
Elizabeth Paul has an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and her work has appeared in River Teeth, Cold Mountain Review, Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. In 2016 Finishing Line Press published her chapbookReading Girl, a collection of ekphrastic prose poems based on paintings by Henri Matisse. Liz served as a Peace Corps education volunteer in Kyrgyzstan for two years and currently teaches ESOL and writing in the Washington, D.C. area. Find her at elizabethsgpaul.com.