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Issue 18

Poetry » Sara Clancy »


The Moon Writes a Folk Song

The ballad she writes is a chasm so full of fish
and light that when coyotes come out to feed
on floating stars they know the harmonics
of scales on their skin. We, too, have a pallor
that is parsnip white and pregnant
with the accumulation of words.

We can just make out the stealth kill
of the bridge, reverberating over the lip
of our open window. It’s the same lyric
that evades consequence, that laughs
as it sings, say ho, pretty Polly, wild roses,
baby mine.

12 Lines Against Salt Water Taffy

You can’t stroll the boardwalk now without being reminded
of sin in the window of every nut shop, stretched and restretched
against the memory of what you promised to lose.

Vanilla white, the impossible bulk straining against your purpose
to stay true to your word. Worse yet, add cherry red stripes
and peppermint twirled into the lozenge of a perfect day in August.

Oh, there has been fudge in white tissue and rock candy dyed blue.
A paper stuck with dots in the pastels of your childhood. Nonpareils,
molasses paddles and coffee flavored cordials, appropriate to age.

But the pound box you pass by with its beach scene graphic
and flavor key inside, holds a whole bowl full of hand-wrapped
invitations to cheat your own resolve.


Tiger Mountain finally sits in a halo
of afternoon blue. You can see Mount Rainier
from the overpass, Elliott Bay from the Space Needle.
After 58 days of rain we follow that grizzled migration
south, down I-5 towards the light.

We are embarrassed by our feeble demographic,
as predictable as our return when the asphalt
shimmers with evangelical fever and the monsoon
coaxes native fauna back underfoot. Soon
we will go home to Seattle for good. Back
to moss and ferns, ice storms and azaleas,
to the closed-in shelter of dripping cedars.

We will bring turquoise jewelry, a bleached
steer skull to remind us of the sun.
A potted saguaro that will not survive.

Clean Laundry

Despite common usage
the clothes flown from almost any
line are innocent. The purple shirt
she had on when she broke her word
hangs blameless next the shorts he wore
when he didn’t hear her.