The Day of the Eclipse
Leaves patchwork a trail to the stream.
My footfall on the bank scatters the trout
who come to spawn each August, jeweled
reflections following instinct.
My son called today, a should-he
or shouldn’t-he conversation. I listened,
questioned. His indecision is unknown
by wild things who live the primordial,
Through the trees, moon eclipses sun
in an eerie twilight not ruled by manners,
mores, norms. Crickets start reverberations
in the trees. Bright glints in the water move
through my shadow, the moon’s shadow—
stars in an ancient galaxy.
by Sarah Russell
Editor’s Note: This poem’s quiet imagery belies the extraordinary nature of the eclipse that fell across the North American continent. It’s insistence on ordinary things illuminates how extraordinary it is that we are all alive at all.
If I Had Three Lives
After “Melbourne” by the Whitlams
If I had three lives, I’d marry you in two.
The other? Perhaps that life over there
at Starbucks, sitting alone, writing – a memoir,
maybe a novel or this poem. No kids, probably,
a small apartment with a view of the river,
and books – lots of books, and time to read.
Friends to laugh with, and a man sometimes,
for a weekend, to remember what skin feels like
when it’s alive. I’d be thinner in that life, vegan,
practice yoga. I’d go to art films, farmers markets,
drink martinis in swingy skirts and big jewelry.
I’d vacation on the Maine coast and wear a flannel shirt
weekend guy left behind, loving the smell of sweat
and aftershave more than I did him. I’d walk the beach
at sunrise, find perfect shell spirals and study pockmarks
water makes in sand. And I’d wonder sometimes
if I’d ever find you.
by Sarah Russell
Editor’s Note: Sometimes songs inspire poems, and sometimes poems inspire songs. This poem demonstrates the intertwined life of songs and poems—perhaps they all come from the same place of silence?
[Apologies for the double posting-the previous version had the incorrect Editor’s Note.]
The movers are here this morning.
Only things with yellow post-its,
I tell them. I find my long lost earring
behind the couch. Probably landed there
that night we couldn’t wait to get upstairs.
I put it in my pocket, wonder
if I kept the other one.
I divide the sterling service for eight
into two sets of four –
Solomon solution of no use
to either of us for dinner parties. Outside,
the garden needs tending – stalks of gray and brown;
withered blossoms in a winter without snow.
I reach for the pruners, then put them back.
The roses are his now.
Tonight I fix a curry with stuff from the fridge,
and we make small talk – my new job, his vacation.
Afterwards, we clean up in choreography
perfected through twenty years of meals together.
I feign tiredness and ask if he’ll be around
tomorrow before I leave.
No, there’s an early meeting, he says
and turns back to TV.
In the guest room, the sheets smell stale.
The old cat comes and curls into the crook of my knees –
an exquisite kindness.
by Sarah Russell, first published in the Goodreads Newsletter.
Editor’s Note: Sometimes the end of a thing happens with a long, slow movement into separation. In this poem, the narrator’s unspoken sadness is brought to attention by the cat’s unintentional punctuation.