—Lake Livingston, Texas
If grief is a lake, am I the red-eared slider turtle,
algae-greased, ducks feasting from my bridge strut,
or am I the lonely jill, little boat of feathers,
scissoring at spores with my bill? Years ago,
I scissored through love like dusk giving up
its clutch, peach kissed, indigo brutalizing the sky.
My body pulsing through its clutches, peach-brutal.
Now, I watch a child throw stones from the pipe dock.
I watch the lake, rock-stunned, the child, now
running toward his mother’s voice, the way animals
panic in the wake of any small violence. When I lost
the baby, I watched love like violence shimmer,
linger a moment, then let go. Yes, shimmer—
as if grief is a lake. As if grief is a lake.
after Marianne Moore
sky un-shelters its anger—then rain,
birth-slick, squalls its mercy
down. I’m tires deep, flood-martyred. I
my breaks and
slip. Everything is wet-spun, metal
throating diesel. Dusk comes
with its little wolf mouth. Stars flash.
ride the high
-way’s shoulder, muscled between semis—
We could slow-dance all night
like this, bumper to bumper, our
until the next hard stop. Don’t stop. I
won’t give myself to some
slicked-up convoy, windshield kissing
in my mouth. I won’t hold the airbag
like a lover, give my
body to its nylon surge. To
-run the storm,
I’ll drive straight into darkness. Think of
it—a car cuts lanes, hydro
-planes, fishtails. The driver
jags the wheel, spins out. His eyes flash,
out of him. We almost crash before
he trips the ditch, flips. Like
a cat sunning, belly stretched toward
air. His roof
caves. His rust-mangled engine seethes, glares.
A man is his story
of darkness. My story? I lived.
Sara Henning is the author of View from True North (Southern Illinois University Press, 2018), co-winner of the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition Award. It has been short listed by Jacar Press for the 2018 Julie Suk Award and for the 2019 High Plains Book Award. She was awarded the 2015 Crazyhorse Lynda Hull Memorial Poetry Prize, the 2019 Poetry Society of America's George Bogin Memorial Award, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship in poetry to the 2019 Sewanee Writers' Conference. Henning teaches writing at Stephen F. Austin State University, where she also serves as poetry editor for Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Please visit her at her electronic home: https://www.sarahenningpoet.com.
Sara’s work previously appeared in HERE.