Ten Lyric Pieces

Sara Nicholson

Blue tunnels upward, and with it
Pink and red speak out. Men,
Never much for idées reçues, confused
Bees with flowers, took notes
On situations that arose from fruit.
A darling prospect this: that art
Would infect us with its bullet points
And level sights with words, but
That’s what it was like, adjuncting
In the year we said we wouldn’t

Work. Leisure. Then nightingales
To dispute the rain with. Owls
Though usually rivals, are blinded
By each other’s faults, the same as us,
Who carry ourselves with grace
While working two jobs, maybe three
If we’re lucky enough to have one
Song. A ballad never written
Down by those who work, yet sing
Songs by Victorians imparadised

And by us cast aside. The cathedrals
Of other centuries enchant us
With their silence. Aside from us
What people do they wait for
To enter them, to forget themselves
In entering them, the anarchic
Ones, who work, and pray, and fight
All day for nothing, those women
Who, in love, embroidered tapestries
For the Lord in the year of

#MeToo. 2018. Will the world be
Better by the time you read this?
Will asphodel return in time
For spring? Myself, I think the world
Of the world, but hope to find it
Dying. We shouldn’t be here, you
And I, without calendars to tell us
When to reap, sit up, ring bells
And bury peach leaves by the moon
To authenticate our experience

Of love, we tread the via negativa.
The only path through woods
As dark as these. Like Peter Abelard
I walked all night and listened
To my own, my only, ardor steal songs
From the treetops. It’s a trick
I played on nature, our landlord
Who rents to us this furnished studio
The mind is, it costs so much
To live within walking distance of

The moon. Neptune. Sorrow. It began
With these three things: a theory
As to why our lives are spent
Between pleasure and brief absences
Of pain, coffee on cool mornings
With a view of the mountains
Before traveling on, between cities
On either coast, spending a day
At the museum in transit between
Centuries, epochs, eras, points in space

To wander through, directionless.
Or to write a dissertation, say,
On nightshades, how they echo
Brightness back at us and drip
Water on the pages of a book
I once wrote, or wanted to write
But didn’t, a Breton lay set in
An Arkansas a princess fortnightly
Summoned up to relieve herself of
Boredom, a book of poems I will

Not write. Jane, it’s Sara, can you
Hear me? This might not be the best
Way to communicate with you.
Are you there Jane? It’s hard to read
The news. California’s yet again
On fire, nothing is happening
The way we thought it would. The Bay
Is too expensive for poets, who cares
That flowers grow along the 1
All year. I’m trying to get you out
Jane. I want a better world for Opal

To grow up in. It takes a lifetime
To grow up, which is another question
It takes growing up to answer:
That time you recognized the drone
Of crickets as a music worthy
Of itself alone, a work song native
To evening we learn in time to forget
The melody of. Like learning
How to police oneself in private
It gives more than we take until we

Come anew.

Sara Nicholson is the author of two books of poetry, What the Lyric Is and The Living Method. She lives in upstate New York.
Originally published:
May 19, 2021


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