The First Day

Lisa Ciccarello


On the first day we only have time
to crawl into the cave.

Our horse has been killed
as a present to us.

In a dream we are unable
to escape our own face

& now it has changed.

A traveler plays us a song
& we receive a mask
for a present

because the moon draws near

because in two days
the moon will fall
but before that can happen

he wants his mask back.

On the second day
we leave the cave.

It has been a dungeon to us

but we are free.

We find a town where they are building a tower.

Where they build a tower
where there is a festival for this moon.

They cannot see
the face of the moon.

A terrible sound like a mask
as it draws closer
to press on the tower
on the town.

It is the second day: the moon is full
we enter the town
we play a game
like gatherers

we have one night the prize
is a trip to the tower.

The prize is a telescope
at the top of the tower.

We have a rival
that makes the moon cry
but the tear

is just another stone.

It is the final day: the clock strikes.

We are looking for the clock door.
The grimacing moon on top of the tower

This is the end of the festival
this is the end of the town
of the moon of the sky
how we’ve seen it

we see it happen.

So we return to the first day.

We leave the cave we enter the town
we have been here before
they are building a tower.

The town is excited the moon is drawing near.




Lisa Ciccarello’s first book of poems, At Night, is forthcoming from Black Ocean. She’s the author of several chapbooks, including Worth Is the Wrong Word, recently out on Black Cake Records. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, Denver Quarterly, PEN Poetry Series, Handsome, Poor Claudia, & Corduroy Mtn, among others. Lisa edits poetry at draft: The Journal of Process.




Editor’s Note:

For the Autumn, this column will tour the Pacific NW.

The first time you visit Portland, you will invariably choose your activities from the barely secret Portland Tourist Menu. You will eat a maple bacon donut from Voodoo, and you will go get your picture taken on the Lord of the Rings walkway at Multnomah Falls. You will get fish sauce chicken wings at Pok Pok, and if it’s summer you will go to the Rose Garden, and if it is winter you will trudge around without an umbrella because, you will invariably be told, umbrellas are not a thing here. On your second visit you’ll head to Sauvie Island to pick berries or get naked on the beach, and by your third visit you’ll have a favorite cafe. It’ll be Crema, where Lisa works.