Tidal Friction (The Moon Moves from Earth at the Same Speed Our Fingernails Grow)

by Matthew Woodman


We’re here because we love you.
We need you
to know, no matter the orbital
velocity, we respect volition,
we acknowledge internal agency.

But—and this is not easy for us—
the evidence is irrefutable:
you’ve chosen withdrawal through conservation
of angular momentum, an anchor
accelerating without restraint or
absolute necessity into … what?
Abeyance? Vita contemplativa?

Last night I came to you and couldn’t wake.
You wouldn’t even try to remember,
the shrapnel of eggshells ensconced even
here, on the kitchen counter, the hangnails
a mosaic salting our hands.
Last night
I sang to the dissolution.
Last night
I swore to the synchronous rotation
and bleached the bloodstains from our marble floors.

No more.
If you won’t slacken the axis,
if you won’t arrest the greater distance
or explain the irregularities,
we can’t have you circulate the children,
we can’t have you illuminate the lovers,
we can’t have you wreath our intimacy.

This isn’t about bringing you to heel.

This is for us.
This is for your own good.


Matthew Woodman teaches writing at California State University, Bakersfield and has poems forthcoming in 580 Split, The California Journal of Poetics, and Axolotl. When he is not teaching or writing, he can be found tending to his garden of California native plants, the most recent of which, a bladderpod (Isomeris arborea), is growing quite nicely. More of his work can be found at matthewwoodman.com.

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