February 18, 2009

I want to live on the upper east side
and never go down to the street

Darrow Montgomery, Liquor Store

Three poems by Sarah Hannah:

Storm Vigil

Minutes before rain I stood by the wide road
Above the lawns and violet pavement
The clouds hung like a false ceiling,
The air too sulfurous for traffic.
It was turbid in the briar;
The grass blades slivered,
The black spruce was bristling.
I peered into the lear, into the quick
Sprigs and bent figure-eights, for a sign.
Then, in the needles of the narrow pine,
There came a twitch. The tree's seismograph.
I waited until it couldn't get darker.

Marble Hill

You've missed the train—
The birds care nothing about it.
In the brush, in the eaves of rock
Yellow moths wink like paper.
You've missed the train,
A perfect miss; it snaked by slowly
As you stumbled down the steps from the subway overpass.
Starlings rattle in the brush.
A dayliner passes, puffing clouds in silence.
Maybe you should have married
That rock guitarist from Jersey.
There was a pleasant stillness then—
A home, yellow flutterings—
Which you cannot help considering, bound,
For another hour, to this stubborn plain
While the afternoon sun makes water of the air
And concrete, and in this heat
Edges blur between outcroppings:
Sooted cliffs, car mufflers, non-refundables.
You're getting older;
You're less able to contain your questions.

Is there any marble in this hill at all?

Sister Morphine

Bustles in her dark body
In the army hospital;

In the Stones' saddest ballad;
On our highest kitchen shelf.

I keep her for you--
Cerulean, sublingual mixture

Clad in brown glass.
Flying nun, she soars.

From syringe to vaulted chamber
Beneath your squirming tongue--

Angel of Mercy, Sister of Care
Until all you can ask for is more.

Slow song in A minor, she releases
The tone-deaf choir in your chest, eases

The rattle and stricture,
And what's left of your lungs takes the air.

Sister, she slackens,
Though a drop of her spilled on the skin

Will pull it tight as a snail
Shot back in its shell,

In the sea's wake sound asleep,
Spiralling off somewhere.


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