The First Otter and the Moon

By Patrick Martin Holian

I would like to tell you about my mother’s erratic heart, or share what I know of Las Patronas,
the women in México who prepare,

throw food and supplies to the migrants from Central America riding the top
of the monstrous train that carries

them north to the border of the United States, I’d like to discuss that summer at church
camp when I was 8 years old, when

our counselor would have the boys in my bunk fist fight, swing tube socks filled with stones
at one another, or the sight of that one boy

throwing another boy jaw first into the bottom of a urinal, and what I truly want to say
is that I treasure the freckles that blossom

beneath your right eye in spring and summer, but can’t remember my social security number
or friend’s daughter’s name, or when

The Great Famine ended in Ireland, or the name of that actor who always plays a serial killer,
he looks like a praying mantis, and

night has suddenly spilled, and yet somehow I’m telling you that the moon was once a stone the
first otter kept in its pouch, along with

all of the other moons and the planets in our solar system save our star, the sun, and that the
first otter rolled the moon across its chest

and juggled it for eons, that stone kept the otter company, he would crack open the shells of his
prey with the moon, and he has only lent us

the moon and the other moons, and the rest of the planets as a favor, and word is he’s on his way
to retrieve them all, as luck would

have it he’s on the way, at this moment, should not be long, just wait, see.

Headshot of Patrick Martin Holian

Patrick Holian (he/him/his) is a Mexican American writer from San Francisco, California. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s College of California and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Black Warrior Review, The Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill Journal, The Arkansas Review, PRISM international, Bennington Review, The Acentos Review, and Yalobusha Review. He was a 2019 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s fiction finalist, and a finalist for Michigan Quarterly Review’s 2021 Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize.

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