p o e m s, v o i c e s a r a h a r v i o
I’d been ostracized, so I hid my head.
And what was the view from under the sand;
it was a view of the Interior,
it was an Interior Ostracism.
It might have been a desert or a beach.
What if I said the world was my ostrich,
when I’d hoped to say it was my oyster;
what special muscle did I like to eat?
And what oyster was my sovereign world?
Spin the globe to Africa or Austin . . .
Was I a gawker, was I a creeper,
was I a stiltman, was I a sleeper?
Was this my world; it might be the oyster’s.
Having it all in the palm of the hand
or in the palm at the end of the mind.
This was traveling and seeing the world;
there were verbs: to oyster and to ostrich.
Sand of the desert and sand of the sea,
each had its beauty, each had its place.
And yes, sand in the meat of the oyster,
and yes, sand in the meat of my own mind.
I gathered around it and made my pearl,
as pure as something made of grit can be.
This was Australia or Austerlitz;
here was an extravagant ostrakon
with the shell as the sky and the blue-and-
pink stain as sunset and the rim, what else,
as heaven. And this: lie in the desert
a little longer. Or sleep on the beach.
Then leave your shells behind you in the sand.
I saw some shadows moving on the wall
and heard a shuffle, as of wings or thoughts.
I rolled back the sheets and looked at the day,
a raw, blown day, white papers in the street.
Sheets were flapping in the sky of my mind,
I smelled the wet sheets, I tasted a day
in sheets hanging in the damp of a day.
White pages flapping: my life had been so new
when I didn’t yet know how old it was.
I couldn’t see the vistas on those sheets,
the dreamscapes sleeping deeply in those sheets;
I hadn’t yet seen my shadow vita
or learned which host would trick me or treat me,
which of my hosts would give me something sweet,
some good counsel and a soft place to sleep,
or what was the name of my ghostwriter.
Who ghosted my life, whose dream would I ghost,
who wrote my name and date across these sheets,
and which sheets would be the wings of my thoughts,
and which would hold the words of my angels.
A host, and did I know I’d have a host;
no, a line of sheets is never a bed,
a gaggle of hosts is never a love,
a host is never as good as a home,
a ghost as good as a dog or a god.
But I had my heart, always had my heart
for god and a home as much as it hurt.
Traveling / Shadows
Thesaurus / Grace
Grief / Hope
Veronica (Vera Icon) / Trauma
Sistine / Song
Excerpted from SONO by SarahArvio.
Copyright: © 2006 by Sarah Arvio
Published in arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf,a division of Random House, Inc.
Sarah Arvio read these poems at Chapters Bookshop, Washington, D. C., April 1, 2006
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