Sarah Kersey is a poet, musician, and x-ray tech from New Jersey, USA. Her work has appeared in Verse Magazine, Thistle Magazine, Columbia Journal (online), and other publications.
It’s the kind of blood-borne wish that meddles with loss
I want a little of me in a faraway brother
Like my estranged sister has all of me, a toss-
away grief that will not decay or rot.
My tears are bitter, but I want to be better.
I need to pour over him the love I wrought
Out of the reassuring squeeze of a letter
Confirming paternity, shed tears over missed years,
Newly drying sheets of a bed wetter.
He is my younger self,
Having a glow that some young men possess
Yet choose to forget the compliments they felt…
so down to earth. At my sister’s death, it will be ever more apparent
That decomposition took its foothold above ground
The worms would just finish her off transparent.
Our youth dethrones us too soon. We’ve wound
Up with an aging sensibility.
I won’t let that happen to him; though dumbfounded,
Betrayed by a new moon
Not casting its brightest light.
Dismayed when day looms.
Once, my sister drove the two of us home
From the Residence Inn
After a seven month tome.
No longer displaced my legs
Splayed out on her dashboard like a spider
Protecting its space and its baby eggs.
Now I will be the protector of his space.
I will poison the scorned queens,
Court jesters, and benign neglectors that would erase
his worth. My will is sheer as silk.
My ties are the dependent clauses of a web.
I am not an easy split.
None of this will ebb
the shock, I know that
it will follow him to bed
tonight. And when I go to sleep on my mattress’ slight
Dip down from where my lumbar spine should begin
I recall my sister’s mattress might
not have been flipped in over two years, her firmness fetters
Her humanity. I am across
The room where a sinner pays a debtor
But they’re both broke.
If I could take her to the mat,
Wrestle her back into my life again, have my forgiveness resound
as a throbbing heart after combat
Frozen and thawed to the limit
In my longing for a younger brother
Stamping a staple thread
Edits in pen still fuming mother
Beseeching God that no more court motions by father.
I know he fled to him to hide him
Than responsibility could ripple.
He tracked muddy judgments and cowardly ways.
I am brittle
For paternity to churn the little
left of civil.
“Tears on the Floor”
I watched my mother cry so heavily,
not as drops of blood before sacrificing herself, but
so her tears hit the floor,
one salty tip
at a time.
One feeble foot glided a sheet of quilted Bounty
over placid tile.
Through tired teeth and
wrung tongue in her mouth, she said
tears on the floor could be a poem, and she knows
poems don't have to rhyme
because her two children don’t.
She is no more of a poet than
a totem pole portending doom
to its sculpture, since
pupils can predict an apoplectic future.
Her bosom sucked children that nursed a grudge
and grew like hunger baring distended cores
which can't be discarded.
Tears on the floor are due drops in mourning
grilling the sun with an agnostic reflection.
Years from where they’ve been,
her children still remember the straits of being anxious
coiled springs corkscrewing a smile right
down to the studs. Holes in their long bones,
decay in their vertebrae;
What can be said of a crumbling constitution?
A sinking second floor?
A leaky pitched roof?
An arsenal of weapons
such as a phallic switchblade affixed to
the hand, detaching, removing?
An astigmatic omnipotence?
What cannot be seen is
slipping strength dissolved into
tears…on the floor…and no
one will fall on their account.
Tears---on the floor---are
frenetically bloating to preserve
life, shedding and abandoning a sinking ship.
Our mother prides herself on
our home’s dry basement.
French drains frame the perimeter
and sip on my errant tears.
Drops meddle, fester, and
muddy beneath the foundation.
Then, they evaporate, condense,
precipitate a violent fall
that shakes the totem pole from sleep.
Even if gravity exerts its gratuitous influence,
what a way for a swimming pool to suspend fear;
what newborn bravery.
“On the Only Island”
(When listening to “Sumiglia” by A Filetta)
In Corsica, “Sumiglia” is personality.
A Filetta is a fern.
Flickering taut cords
timid strides shy vibratos and vocal strokes
squinting with the lilt of morning.
I want my people live
I want them fervent and rising
I want them conjuring
colors like a blind infinity
inside a muted trumpet.
Floating mercury, listing
regaining balance from counter-lean,
one foot basking while treading its shadow,
the other insubordinate foot
trades love for indifference.
Men sing paghjella, a polyphony propre,
I want my people rich in their poverty,
identifiable in their assimilation.
It’s a sore mouth,
lacerated tongue splitting sound reasoning
through conflicting accents.
A fleck’s odyssey away from l’ile seul,
an only island.
Your command in familiarity
with custom color, yours and mine.
My hope for us, the color
of well-watered clay
of off keys and
is raised organized voices.
You are not silenced when
hand is over ear
like a shell of another time.