Three Poems by Sara Moore Wagner

Read More: A brief Q&A with Sara Moore Wagner

Puberty Subjunctive

The girl holds the snow in her naked hand
and when it is too much, it turns into a tulip
bulb she plants just where the dog is buried,
every night placing a new blanket she knits
from the hairs she plucks from her legs, under
her arms, from the long line of her eyebrows,
between them a valley she walks with the pointed
stick of the tweezer. And she is the earth,
and the earth is her. Each year, a blossom
should come snaking out of the mulch,
swanlike, thin necked, should undress
in the morning as a girl would, quietly, polite,
shed its petals back into the soil, into the night.
And she will capture this in time lapse video,
post it online where no one will know that she
has made this herself, fertilized with the ugliest
parts, the ones her father tells her cut
out, cut off, get rid of—and when she holds
her new breasts in her cupped palms,
maybe they’ll burn like a lightbulb:
her body is a filament. She can change
anything into anything.

untitled

Because God Demands the Silence

Remember that time you watched me
curtsy to the devil just so, tilting my heel
up as if I were stepping off the stoop
at our grandmother’s house, all light
and full of wind, but you knew what
I was doing, how the canary came then,
dug its beak right between our fingers,
made us mothers before we were ready,
pulled out all the milk and worms. Suddenly,
we’re beastly, hair like rotting leaves
on a spring fern. And yes, I know the scriptures, […]


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untitledMother with a Split Tongue

You call me crazy when I least expect it,
when I am holding myself neat in my glass body.

You call me a breath against a windowpane, face
in the bushes, yellow-eyed and jagged, ground down

as the fox liver I bake into the bread I feed the children,
ground down to the paste I put on your eyelids

the night you made me your wife. I am a pack of wolves
advancing, overtaking what you can only imagine

is the girl you knew back in college, the one who
never showed you how a face can flicker like a jellyfish

in the waves. Please, then, put me back where you found me
into the water, into the clay pot. Let me drown or else ferment,

to lose my mind as you think I’ve already done—
In the night there is a knocking in me. It sounds

like fingers. Leaves me with the word sever, sever
sever—or let it go.


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Sara Moore Wagner lives in West Chester, OH with her husband and three small children. She is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Poet Lore, Waxwing, The Cincinnati Review, and Nimrod, among others. She has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart prize, and Best of the Net. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com.

Read More: A brief Q&A with Sara Moore Wagner