Feedback: Ars Poetica

Sara Mae

I keep being told my images need meaning

& my speakers need to express desire. Meanwhile,

I am busy reminding myself that we are moving 

forward in time. I have a floral dish set now

the color of under ripe acorns. Enough counter

space to open a bottle of wine. Breathe.

In Minneapolis, I cooked on hot plates & was

touched by strangers in chat rooms, would walk

to work in 10 degree weather because my coat

was warm enough & I had talk show hosts I liked.

In Baltimore, I learned how to cook cremini mushrooms

& how to talk down another drunk boyfriend. He cried

saying my mother would love you, standing 

on my fire escape, the sun opening its hips to the horizon.


My life was a series of small domestic aspirations. 

Growing up, my mother would write our birthdays

in lipstick on the mirror. Happy 7th birthday ____!

sultry scarlet, a tasteful gray-brown. I thought

all this time I was making the poem beautiful for you

& keeping my feelings out of it. But I see now, you don’t want

me to be beautiful, but tragic, tragic back when I lived 

in Boston, back before everything, my hands in T’s Marilyn 

wannabe acid bleach hair, disgusted with my truest shyness.

If I touched her, who would I be? Without the illusion

of safety to keep me from me? Reader, I built us a 

fence. I cooked you a roast. Sit the fuck down & eat.

We have blackberry wine! Witch’s butter mushrooms. I’ll take 

your coat. (it was mine all along.) Radio static to fill our

silences. The plates are chipped but they match the oak trees.

I’ll greet you & leave a smudge on your cheek. See? How I have

repurposed all the images of my loneliest days?

How I have almost made a home & taught myself

to want to stay.


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