Winters and winters ago the moon paled and sang something unhearable, understood only by dogs. A silent howling, some said, or a whistle tucked between wind and rain and thunder, a celestial whisper low and quaking. So this song was sung and the snow began to shift, the bones on dogs and men alike with it. Mother moon sang, angry with wolves and their dogbrothers for loving man, the too-tall beast who would not howl on the equinox, who would not love its mother light the same way, whose smoke clouded night air breathless. This song, this moonsong, it rang wild along valleys, burning grass and cricket, to the tents of man and dog, pulling spines toward moon and song, pulling up with nightfingers cloudy and without gravity, without mercy, without the sun its brother present or passing, without consent of river valleys. Man-spines and dog-spines pulled and pulled and as they strained they grabbed root and rock to slow this song’s wronglifting, pathetic fingernail anchors stripping, and the earth stretched with them until mounds and hills welded coolly the foot of mountain, man and dog and earth becoming one thing.  High up finally, up enough beyond clouds to see the night sky smokeless black. Necks hardened to stones with winter, spines a ridge of rock and snow, the dog’s breath a howling heard only from the tops of mountains, where the moon is biggest.


C.J. Opperthauser currently lives and teaces in Cincinnati. His poems have recently appeared/are forthcoming in Ghost Ocean Magazinedislocate, and Neon. He blogs at