(Canadian) Sunday Service: Sara Peters poem
NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Sara Peters, whose (beautiful, delicate, lucid) debut collection, 1996, was published last Spring by House of Anansi (see The Rumpus’ review).
She was thirty-four,
.. . .. . she’d recently chopped off her right index finger
and she came to my high school for recess and lunch.
.. . .. . I felt her before I saw her:
she ran her hand down my spine
.. . .. . It happened so fast I had no time to pose.
Nothing felt better to me
.. . .. . than being touched possessively,
without having to touch someone back.
.. . .. . She’d pull my braid, pick lint off my sweater,
smooth my eyebrows, all while explaining
.. . .. . saffron and fisting and France.
Once, she tightened my scarf
.. . .. . and we drove to her rented cabin, until the road stopped
and we were walking through snow
.. . .. . falling at inaudible frequencies.
She sang something under her breath
.. . .. . (she said it was nothing I knew),
striding ahead in unlaced boots, her jacket flapping open.
.. . .. . She wore so many layers, I’d never been able to tell
the actual size of her body, beyond the occasional ankle or wrist
.. . .. . breaking the surface. Around her the stars spun like tops:
tops I knew she could pause with her fingertip.
.. . .. . When we arrived,
she lit twenty tea lights and vanished.
.. . .. . Then animals began to emerge.
Two patchy dogs from the couch,
.. . .. . while in one corner, something nursed on something else.
There was a mirror
.. . .. . the size of a record jacket, and in it I saw her
walking out of the bathroom toward me,
.. . .. . her bandage half unrolled: the wound was startling.
I opened my beer and watched
.. . .. . as the foam ran down my hand and wrist
and she flew—it seemed—to my side,
.. . .. . knelt, took the bottle, and said
Put your mouth on it
.. . .. . and when I bent she laughed
as a cat dropped down near her knee,
.. . .. . from what seemed a great height, though it couldn’t be.
Sara Peters was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She completed an MFA at Boston University, and was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 2010 to 2012. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Threepenny Review, and The Walrus. She lives in Toronto.
“Winter Jewelry” from 1996 by Sara Peters, copyright 2013. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press, Toronto. www.houseofanansi.com.