If I Die First

Sarah Russell Poetry

No one could give better instructions than Wendy DeGroat does in this poem.  Her chapbook Beautiful Machinery was published last year.  You can read more about Wendy here.

After the burning’s done, pour
what’s left in a Mason jar—nothing new,

but one washed clean of applesauce or pickled beets,
the clear kind that kids keep fireflies inside.

Let my cinders rest there
like sand art in jelly jars carried home from the fair.

If the small or gray of me unsettles you,
pin flannel or fleece around the glass,

leaving a gap, thumb-wide, under the rim, enough
to let sun and moonlight in. Store me beside the poetry.

When it feels right, talk to me, sing, or sit by quietly.
For a wheel of seasons, take me down. Hold me open—

to campfires, fallen leaves, a lilac’s laden bough.
Press me deep in moss and snow.

When my birthday…

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Old Photographs

Sarah Russell Poetry

Gabeba Baderoon is a South African poet who teaches at Penn State in Women’s Studies and African Studies.  I love to go to her readings.  They are always evenings of insight and passion.  This poem is from her newest book of poetry.  You can learn more about Gabeba through this great article about her.

Old Photographs

On my desk is a photograph of you
taken by the woman who loved you then.

In some photos her shadow falls
in the foreground.  In this one,
her body is not that far from yours.

Did you hold your head that way
because she loved it?

She is not invisible, not
my enemy, nor even the past.
I think I love the things she loved.

Of all your old photographs, I wanted
this one for its becoming.  I think
you were starting to turn your head a little,
your eyes looking…

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