Poetry by Sarah McCann

Image by Song Park / songpark-art.com


Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Park


Pads and punks skim
a flat, reeded pond.
A crane flashes

from the crux
of kneeling
trees: a handkerchief

in an upper side
of suit, watchful.
The water is not at all

deep. The lightbulb
tower struggles to pull
above heaps of lost

leaves. Its base
wilts in filth
of swamp.

One eye, cloaked
with foam, between
highways, looking close:

the lake is seeded
by black plastic.
It was filled once

by hose. Looking
close: the flurry
of cranes is one

crane. It is one
lily. A light

poised in absolute
balance between
the heart

flaps of one
drab but

lilypad. Eggshell
plumed open.
Open mouth.

Some turtles drown
when it rains. Look up,
amazed, mouth open.


Someone is not
watching. Someone
around and decent

is not in the middle.
Someone is close
and specific

and fervent
about not coming
a step more towards.

There are four feet
up to the knees
in marsh.

Two sets
of lips touching,
pausing, pressure

closer. Someone outside
sees these bodies
and turns away, turns again.


Lilyroot filaments
a hundred thrown-
thread anchors

drift off the rafters
and are coated with electric,
gleaming algae.

There are streetlights
and there are stars.
Cranes, at night,

kick and bat
the light from the lake.
The park lies

blown and burst
each morning. The lovers
roll from the leaves, covered,

fingers tangled. Someone inflates
as they stumble toward sunup.

Masters Of Decimals

We are two beans sprouting at the neck when the world arrives. It's the anemone's hour of every stretch and we knock heads by mistake: awake with cheek full of saliva, xylophone of brine in stomach. Having mastered decimals watching Adult Math on television, we bumped into sleep itself. Had our detaching dreams and you were living things I wouldn't dream. Has it been this way for long? We tug and roll toward each only other. Our bed envelope. We have our terms, we have our calculus, and we have our calculus in terms of shells. Not hardened nor coated, but cloaked without in the ocean's sine. The moon rolls us into one conch room. Mollusk long gone. We curl around the helix. One long lick what we are. I give you one long lick. Our feelers emerge from our collar which is also our socks. Still in bed, set in our places, we are right (as the phone roars in our ears) against each other, tenths, hundredths



The Sanitarium of Chunchon

I am sick so much, people call me hospital.
In the lightless mine, surrounded by jade,

I stretch my tongue until it uproots,
catch mineral sweat, taste fossils,

certain my circulation blushes.

Flaps of capillaries finally regular.
I rest from travel. I

am kicked in the head
by a woman with a liver

ballooned, diluted, fluid tomb.
Outside her body it

is seen dissolving.
Her husband plies her buttons

unpeels the blouse, and places jade
shards in orbits on the skin

of her belly and breasts. When she breathes
the pieces tremble

then remeet her,
edging between bones,

all pointing towards the center.

In my plane I cleave clouds:
A shoulder from the arm.

I hate that I have come here.

My blood at least
is moving. I gather stones for the man

and hand them to his hand. We dress her chest
with unstrung, evenly-spaced jewels.

A fit of coughs. She wakes the lid of her
own esophagus.

The man is her hanging cloud.
She is the acid soil of a temporary forest.



Sarah McCann was a Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been published in such journals as The Bennington Review, Acrturus, Mortar Magazine, The South Dakota Review, and Hanging Loose. Her poetry has also appeared in Thom Tammaro’s anthology, Visiting Frost: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Robert Frost and an anthology from the Academy of American Poets, New Voices. Her translations from the Modern Greek into English have been recognized by the Fulbright Foundation, and a book of her translations of Maria Laina was recently published by World Poetry Books.