Love makes me follow procedure: put down
the packs, separate 20 feet,
(If one is struck, others will be able to treat.)
In the dry dark under
my chest, beetles kick
dust from their holes.
And I remember the habits of lightning,
how it came for the cornfield next door when I was eight.
The whole house shook, trying to get the sound off its back.
The basement so quiet and no walls. The rooms above waiting.
Scrub and buttercup, rock
eyeball, exposure, cairn-marked
sand paths miles in all
directions, in these flats
above treeline weather changes fast—
we could at least lie together, I call.
I'm cold. There are other procedures: how to restart
a heart. I rehearse in my head the old lesson
on the waxed cafeteria floor, the plastic man with its rising chest, lips apart.
in the cloud—I call
his name again the scape's
gone—my hair's up—it
its ribs contract and heave,
and I pray because I know how,
say the word Goddess like a sucking stone
to busy my mouth
—but where did I learn that?—it must've been
in the bakery that summer
light among the loaves I'd drop
to my knees in the flour and sesame
—dust rose up—
and crack in half repeating
Goddess Goddess Goddess please please please
and the air shifts.
What is it?—not me—not love—no named thing—not memory—barely a break
in cloud, a slim ray
that taps me on the head, and what is it says
time to go
in my own voice—and what
flickering storm candle of a woman
leads the way
down into tundra, where the elk watch
us pass, knowing we're safe?
Sara Fetherolf was born in California, raised in the Midwest, came of age in the backwoods of New Jersey, and lives in Brooklyn these days. She holds an MFA degree from Hunter College, where she also teaches. Her poetry is forthcoming or has recently appeared in Emrys Journal
, Red Paint Hill
and Heron Tree
, among others.
more by Sara Fetherolf: