Sarah Maclay

Country: United States
Language(s): English


The clouds give birth—I swear—
to a headfirst, orange
moon cocked halfway
down the sky, exactly split
in two. Its kitey edge,
a diameter, lights
an ocean aisle

and calls me
as its lantern
clock the half hour
to the sea, now parallel to the mast
of a fishing boat, to flashlights
held by fisherman on the beach—

it doesn’t disappear so much as sail
beyond my sight line
as a Chinese junk—

and leaves me
at the shore.


Night, stripped of color. I smell the ripe
sea: imagine your uterus exposed, in motion,
skimming the entire surface of your boy.
Imagine it’s dark. It wants you to come
with it, laughs at the way your body shakes
as you try to root yourself to land.

Forget your manners. Sweetness
is an irritation. You’re going to rupture
everything. Look at weather: clouds
and ocean, all those things
that spiral out
of what you call control.


Why keep a seed a seed?
Everything’s a seed.

That tide bulling at your ankles
has a message: look—the sea’s
not kidding around. In those rhythmic
bursts, the constant tug, the flat
sand you stepped into now conforms
exactly to your foot. Seconds later,
all that will be washed away.

Earth gets the proportions even righter
than our bodies: more than half the planet pulled
by something other than itself.

We forget, on land,
until the sea within


Maybe because they remembered the smell, the wild
horses of the Camargue come down to the sea.

Maybe because they remember the way it felt
to be surrounded by the fluid of another
filled with the pulse of its own giant life,

even their manes—curling into a froth of wind—
echo waves and yes, their nostrils flare—
they cannot help it.

Listen: you can hear it in the echo of your pulse:

The black mares pound the night beach.
The black mer pounds the night.


Yard Work

I’ll clear the old, putrid fruit,
the carcasses of bees where oranges have fallen
and the drying turds the dogs have dropped.
I’ll sweep away the fallen avocado leaves
grown snowy with their infestations,
snip the stems of toppled flowers, toss them.
I’ll yank he hose across the grass,
turn the rusty faucet,
let the lawn moisten
to a loose, runny black.
I’ll water the rosemary
till I can smell it on my fingers.
Time to grab the trowel.
Time to dig.
To take off the gloves.
Let the handle callous the palm.
Time to fill the fingernails
with dirt.
Time to brush the trickle from your forehead.
Time to plant the bulb,
to fill the hole with loam and water,
covering the roots.
Time to join the soil to soil
until the night is jasmine
and a thickness like a scent of lilies
rises off the bed;
until the stalks of the naked ladies fall to the ground,
twisting on their roots;
until our broken fists lie blooming.