Ira Joel Haber © 2006 All Rights Reserved
While we count the casualties, they
are already fastening their snorkels.
We mill about the bank with logbooks
and pencils, trying to get the names down.
But like refugees who sought safe ground
at the wrong elevation, our logs go under
with the dead, their leaks and symptoms,
leaving the river’s surface to describe them.
Still, I go on filling my scroll out underwater,
a hymnal of fish and the cream-breasted birds
who dive after them, that clash of beaks
with fins resembling the brief gleam of daggers.
No use trying to hold what won’t be held,
except to say: tipping the heads
of the wounded back for breath, their mouths
rise and close over ours like water.
On the Bank
Lights draw faces on the river:
One’s hair curves like colored wires.
Another is a sleeping child
wound in a skein of wool.
Chill river, at Christmas
you are strung with colored bulbs
and baubles; they spring
like sheep from your belly.
A man plods up the bank—
the one who unravels snarls
of ice for barges. His boots
churn and move like sluices.
The water bursts with sluggish lightning—
lightning, reflected off his life vest,
flint tinsel in a shepherd’s loom.
SARAH SLOAT grew up in New Jersey, where she attended university. For the last 14 years, Sarah has lived in Germany, where she works for a news agency. Her work has appeared in West Branch, Pebble Lake Review and 3rd Muse, among other publications. Her favorite poets include Pier Giorgio di Cicco and Norman Dubie.
Table of Contents Next Poem Guidelines