Sarah Freligh: Two Poems

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A Letter to You About Myself

I still do bad things. Sometimes I bite my fingernails, not down
to the quick, but only to even out the rough spots. Last week my
thumb snagged a new pair of tights. All day the run laddered up
my thigh, displaying beige leg flesh in each little window. I’m always
in a hurry, an hour ahead of the here and now, a refugee from my own
life. I hope I didn’t give that to you. My teeth are bad, maybe yours
are too? My dentist says I’ll be lucky to keep the teeth I have as if he
knows what my future will be: me in a hospital bed cranked up high
enough to see outdoors: the birds fighting for the last bit of seed
in the feeder. The drone of a TV across the hall, a soap opera whose
characters I no longer recognize. The names are the same, the actors
different. Every day is like this. The girl who brings my tray is not
the one from yesterday though she says she is. Her hands are hard
and strong. Here’s your boiled egg, honey, she says. I don’t answer
to that name anymore.

 

***

Saudade

—From the Portuguese: A kind of intense nostalgia or a constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist

Like the time your train
tooted out of Utica
three hours late past

a grove of trees wrapped
in white lights, past
the neon signs of a bar

as the last car left
the parking lot,
a black sedan you see

yourself riding in, thigh
to thigh with the blue-jeaned guy
you hooked up with over

whiskey shots and shells of Pabst
at last call, the bass player
for the rock band whose

big hands you’d admired
all night plucking
at his stringed crotch, even

as the jukebox spins out
its last song, even as
a waitress wipes down

the sticky tables with a frayed rag
soaked in club soda, listens
to the train whistle

out of the station, wishing
she were where you are
moving away from her life.

 

***

Sarah Freligh is the author of Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize, A Brief Natural History of an American Girl, winner of the Editor’s Choice award from Accents Publishing, and Sort of Gone, a book of poems that follows the rise and fall of a fictional pitcher named Al Stepansky. Her work has appeared in The Sun Magazine, Brevity, Rattle, Barn Owl Review, on Writer’s Almanac, and anthologized in the 2011 anthology Good Poems: American Places. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006.

[The above poems appear in Sad Math and are used here by permission of the author.]

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