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Sarah Maclay’s poems, reviews and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, FIELD, Hotel Amerika, The Writer’s Chronicle, Solo, Pool, ZZYZYVA, lyric, Runes, Cider Press Review and numerous other publications including Poetry International, where she currently serves as book review editor. New work is forthcoming in Ninth Letter and The Journal. Her debut collection, Whore, received the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry and was released in 2004. She was also a winner of the dA Center for the Arts Poetry Prize, a finalist for the Blue Lynx Prize for Poetry and a semi-finalist for the Kenyon Review Poetry Prize (Zoo Press), the Cleveland State University Poetry Prize and the Tupelo Press First Book Prize, and she recently received a Pushcart nomination. Last summer she appeared as a “first books” panelist at the Napa Valley Writers Conference. The author of three chapbooks, Ice from the Belly (Farstarfire press), Shadow of Light (Inevitable Press) and Weeding the Duchess (Black Stone Press), she also co-edited the anthology Echo 6 8 1 for Beyond Baroque, where she has been a poet in residence. A Montana native, she received degrees from Oberlin College and Vermont College, worked in the film and software industries, and has most recently been teaching writing in Los Angeles at USC and FIDM, as well as conducting workshops both privately and, periodically, at Beyond Baroque.

feminine, winter, cold

When the blue shadows
pull themselves across the hills
and white sinks into twilight—

the blue snow of twilight—

there is an illusion of beginning:

here, where the field intersects the sky
beyond the fence;

where the crystals slowly scurry
from the firs.

It is a foreign house.
There is nothing to unpack.

It is not yet night
and the day, with its covered mouth
that refused to talk—

that day is gone:
it is a blessing.

Let it be a blessing.

Let the fir branches softly shake their snow:
soft as plumes, soft as ostrich feathers.

 

Bourbon

Fireflies, the dark heat,
a deep humidity begins evaporating

and night is dented with this small array of stars
from a motel—Stardust or Star-Lite,

I can’t remember now.
The bones of your body—dear cage

for keeping you.
The way they make your body old

beneath your muscles. Almost ghost
limbs. Trunk of a small car, clicked open, metal

in that slow plie. Our fingers grip
the handles of our luggage, pull it from the dark.

Your hands. Your mother,
a whole family

crowds into the room with us.
It’s summer. We unpack.

The contents of our suitcases
are mingling . . . this seems right. 

 

Yard Work

I’ll clear the old, putrid fruit,
the carcasses of bees where oranges have fallen
and the drying turds the dogs have dropped.
I’ll sweep away the fallen avocado leaves
grown snowy with their infestations,
snip the stems of toppled flowers, toss them.
I’ll yank the hose across the grass,
turn the rusty faucet,
let the lawn moisten
to a loose, runny black.
I’ll water the rosemary
till I can smell it on my fingers.
Time to grab the trowel.
Time to dig,
to take off the gloves,
let the handle callous the palm,
fill the fingernails
with dirt.
Time to brush the trickle from the forehead.
Time to plant the bulb,
to fill the hole with loam and water,
covering the roots.
Time to join the soil to soil
until the night is jasmine
and a thickness like a scent of lilies
rises off the bed;
until the stalks of the naked ladies fall to the ground,
twisting on their roots;
until our broken fists lie blooming.



© 1995 Sarah Maclay from her debut full-length collection

 


 

 


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