Margeaux Walter   © 2012 All Rights Reserved

Sappho: Decoded
(France, 1940)

It was the brush of your tender lips on wrist! [My ruby heart
whirred], these [exultations of joy], yours!

I saw you, and I am [a scythe, a sickle, a moon]. I cannot stop
clinging to the curve of your fingertips.

Love, meet me at midnight. I will be there in the [dusky corners and
wine-scented] rooms. Listen for my [honeyed whispers].

I am [a flowered dress of waiting]. Please stay until [time unfastens
and drops its petals to the floor].

We are a [red wrapped embrace]. Only your [vertical strokes] will turn
these [rounded vowels] into sentences. [Ink pauses], waiting to become

It is [starless vacant] night. I lie awake writing these [unanswered
prayers for union] and tears spring [wells that never run dry].

Today a [telegram tapped] at the door. A part of [my body and soul]
has been killed. Stop.

I cannot forget: protocol and its [barbed wire], the black Maginot
line, [his gray shrapnel eyes] [the press of warm thigh].

[O Interrogations of God]! Planets ache, wrenched out of orbit. Souls
[like swallows] dive, collide and only dust remains.

Your [fallen blackbirds] burn my heart…carefully I fold and unfold
myself into an origami prayer.


Christine Clarke
Copyright © 2012  

Christine Clarke lives in Seattle, Washington, where she works as a molecular biologist. Her poems have received awards from the Seattle Public Library and Redmond Arts Council. She is currently working on her first chapbook, Seventeen Different Kinds of Disaster.

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