Allen Forrest © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Lion’s Teeth

You’d once asked me to name the flowers
littering the grass. Dandelions. Though
from four floors up

they could be anything—catsear, coltsfoot
or snake root—though only the last
can kill you. Denti di leone, you’d smiled.

The ripped pieces of a poem I’d written
tumble across the floor…ti amo
dimmi qualcosa…un’altro…From the window,

I watch a flower break free, flicker across the grass
becoming a white moth or perhaps,
as my mother told me, the soul of someone

I’d once loved. Every wishing child knows
if you blow hard and all the dandelion seeds
fly free, your wish comes true. Though one breath

is all you’re given. One by one, I hold a flame
to the fragments of torn paper… dove sei…
chiedermi…dove sei…throw their burning into a bowl.

I’m careful. If you hold a moth
too close, they say its wing dust on your fingers means
sure death. All night, a wind hammers

whatever stands in its path. By morning, the white
flowers are gone, their seeds blown
god knows where. The bowl, empty.


Breakfast Monody Beginning with a Line from Kay Boyle

I have wanted other things more than lovers…
but not for very long.

I’ve wanted other things more than sex
but only for a while.

And I believe
when the rough grief of Rome’s filthy seagulls
in their nimbostratus scuffle, the xylophones
and zithers, the green tomatoes sizzling in my mind’s
electric fryer, when it’s all about to stop,

I’ll still want a body.

I’ll still want
when I’m ninety-one and have long forgotten
condolences or condoms
to crawl in bed with the octogenarian
in the hospice room next door.

I’ll wear pink socks and we’ll share oxygen.

There’ve been mornings when I’ve settled
for something less

but I know that when I wake tomorrow
I’ll still crave bacon
and with the smell, my mouth
                                            will fill with water.

Sarah Wetzel
Copyright © 2017  

Sarah Wetzel is the author of River Electric with Light, which won the 2013 AROHO Poetry Publication Prize and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and was published in 2010. Sarah currently teaches creative writing at The American University of Rome.

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