person Sarah Dickenson Snyder, three poems

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has three poetry collections, The Human Contract, Notes from a Nomad (nominated for the Massachusetts Book Awards 2018), and With a Polaroid Camera, forthcoming in 2019. Recently, poems have appeared in Artemis, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO


Speaking to Rilke

I imagine you sitting on a bench
in front of Apollo’s archaic torso at the Louvre,

perhaps Rodin sending you there and you
capturing light on a thin page. A sonnet

sculpting to its center—
You must change your life.

But how can I—
write words over and over

to find a portal, a curved path
through leaves, trees—your words

a lamp, stretching to the unreachable
where I can almost touch the ripening.


Red Speaks Deep

It must be our blood—
the death it meant in the beginning

to cavemen and life to cavewomen
each month. Red woven

into our lives in octagonal
signs, cans of Coke, our teams

and nails and lips—and Bruegel,
how the plowman’s shirt pulls us

to the center of the green sheened
painting, how we find him first before

the red cap of the fisherman in the lower
right guides us to Icarus—

his splashing legs, his one hand left,
unnoticed and flapping.


On the Bank
for Lucille Clifton

It took an hour
to memorize the lines,
ending with sail

through this to that
learning a prayer,
following a tide

that pulls a boat into a river
that widens to an estuary,
and out to the Chesapeake Bay.

It breaths us in, enters skin—
becoming a worded shield,
every rib shouldering

the horizon—
how words can be inhaled,
granular, travel with blood and stay.

I look out at the white tipped sea,
taste the limestone air—
many lives in any one life

opening silently
in the wind—
everywhere a passage.


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