Sarah Sarai

Hummingbird Feeder

What is the value of having a soul,

that however-defined sensory intelligence

prompting us to

become a flank of stars or 

huddle of trees?

For one,

the soul is not a people.

For one,

the soul does not do terrible things.

The self? Destroy it.

Step outside.

Top off the hummingbird feeder.

Less time to be terrible.

Less time to judge.

Them, us, yourself.

For one, for honor, for a lark.

Queens

 

Deciduous

 

When she was ninety-six, old-country gloom a veil pulled over her face, my grandmother’s

 

fingers were dried twigs. Sister Three, who dropped acid in Morocco, Europe, Laurel Canyon

 

said it was poisons in the Maxwell House. I thought it was age. After Grandma died the house

 

she’d retired to reverted to the Lutherans. Richmond Hill, Rhinebeck, Göteborg, a church gets

 

what a church wants. My doctor in the East Eighties predicted my fingers would twig out

 

from arthritis but lo and behold me, coffee-d up, seventy-one and leafy. 

 

Swashbuckling

 

I was seven in the year of the peaches pie, the year my grandmother took me to the movies. 

 

I’m thinking it was my birthday, but I’m always thinking it’s my birthday. We saw the Eddie

 

Duchin Story at Rockefeller Center. Tyrone Power as the bandleader. They don’t make that kind

 

of heartthrob any more. Other kinds, just not that. Whether it was or wasn’t black and white, 

 

the movie was black and white. No poppies, no glittering shoes of redemption. I didn’t know 

 

my grandfather, that he’d been locked up or that my mom had a thought of herself running 

 

after a white truck to institutional no return. When she was twelve. She survived polio when 

 

she was six. Strong-jawed Tyrone caused Tilly, my grandmother, to sigh into her handkerchief. 

 

I felt the lace droop with her tears. My pudgy fingers squeezed popped corn. Our seats were 

 

the color of Dorothy’s shoes and we saw the high-kicking Rockettes. I was a shy little girl,

 

absorbent like lace. I guess I didn’t want to ask why everything was sad.

Sarah Sarai’s poems have been published in Barrow Street, The Southampton Review, Okay Donkey, Posit, Boston Review, Hobo Camp Review, Gone Lawn, Pine Hills Review, and many other journals. Her second full-length collection was published in 2019—That Strapless Bra in Heaven. She lives in New York and works as an independent editor.