Three Poems by Sarah Maclay


So we went on the velvet journey of his voice.
And the girl, then, opened a brook.

He knew (well) how to apologize
for nothing.

And she, too, allowed the forehead lines
their natural shadow.

It was a private country that they made.

We followed it as long as there was sound.

And the mechanical caws crowing.

She had opened a brook.

And he had opened his private voice.

It was not, at that time, difficult to let go—
of everything, at night.

But where was the whipped architect(ure)
of the sheets?

There was simply no place to enter.

The words had been guarding her
from their experience.

Once the sound had stopped.

It had become chimerical.
A miracle.

It was about nothing.

And someone was going to misread that as “criminal.”

Or shimmer.

Or camera.

The animals could smell no fear.

Process counted, we know.

Sometimes you just had to wait.

Terrible, I know.

To wait, that is, for yourself.

More terrible.



—November, After the Jeffers Fest

There was the way the sea felt at night,
which was the way it looked—

black, the streetlamps making a cold
brightness. Damp. The emptying

crowds, a sparseness—air
between palms, the open


In the lit room of memory,
so densely alive

(the deer, that they are here . . .)

roses, sisters of the sycamore, the owl—

nothing like the billboards of thin

The great-horned, 28, alert,
blinking above a falconer’s glove—

though, with its glass bones, it cannot fly.

A squadron of roses carving their nods of deep peach
into air, like a chorus.

Those two trees behind them, leaves like split hearts,
fastened to the ground.     Transacting.

Impossible not to feel them.

And to the left, my friends—Brendan, in his bug-eyed
shades; Cathy, in her shawl—

my friends, who have become themselves, also.

And even I—I, who had abandoned
all notion of miracle—



—The Auguries

It was just a field—

but that night it was the meadow,
and it glowed—

like nothing else around it glowed.

I walked down the hallway of my parents’ house
to the kitchen,
to be sure—

sure that no light source
explained this.

There had been the long, shrill call
of an animal—a sweet call—

one I’d never, before, heard.

In the way that coyotes sometimes wake us
in the thick of night—

the sound of a crane.

Or two. The sound of two.

In their shrill, sweet, unexpected vocal dance
of mating.

Or of calling. Maybe just of calling.

In their inability—having heard the other call—
to sustain their silence.

In their recognition of each other—
before even seeing.

In their shared tone.

Which was more remarkable—the calling,
or the glow?

Or was the meadow calling to the cranes

—whose call slipped back into the night,
a disappearing carving.

By morning, the field was
once again a field.


But then just a few days later, far above the path
that led into a small municipal park

of blackberries and uncut grass, of maple and madrona—

like a river of velvet rowers

crossing the large sky—

the sound of their wings so different from the sound of their cry—

entirely another color—

crossing the large water of air, the large water of the sky

in a gray whir, a gray embrace of velvet flapping—

were scores of black crows,

leaving behind their gargoyle perches on condo rooftops

and settling in small flocks within their larger Concordia—

black-frocked choirs, silent, settled

in the tops of trees—


like onyx magnolias

suddenly sprung at the end of summer, in the pink heat—

twenty-five or thirty at a time.


And there had been the finest white silk thread of hair

at 40,000 feet—the clouds twirling over, under, through

themselves as though they were, themselves, the motion

of an orchestrated score against uninterrupted cobalt—

suspended in, against the backdrop of that pure blue,

which should have no weight, is endless,

which must have some texture we can feel as blue,

without even looking;

which must be, itself, some kind of light;

which refuses, in this moment,

to declare itself as blank

or less than fully tangible—

and the flight of white and slow and crystal music curled

in its lengthening embrace of shifting feathering across the stone—

that stone also suspended

there, that cuticle of moon.

Because it was all I could do to keep from screaming,

right there, on the plane,

I knew it was beautiful.

If this was a prayer, my entire body could hear it.

It was as though my whole body was an eye.

It would be important, I knew, to find a way to say this simply.

To try.

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