Sarah Schwartz


My happiness is so slow, close
to petrified. Sentiment
is sediment. First and leftover.
Never the thing, grown or seen. Groan or seed.
My astonishment at matter
what matter can not contain.
I am not ashamed to be a decent carrier,
a seedling vessel, a skin-shy iris.
Mouth, I said humble.
Rush pink rush.
Creep aster.

Is there anything to be read in the shooting
star columbine. Shooting columbine. American vetch.
We have all been locoweeds. We have all been trailing
four o’clocks. American vetch. To my mountain lover,
I am sorry I am stuck with this heartleaf bittercress.
Uninterrupted days of bricklebush. I once called myself
a difficult flower, not having the name for the flower I am.
No nodding onion, no sweet cicely, no wild candytuft.
Call me red pussytoes. Call me death camas. Call me bastard toadflax.
Sing wild cosmos, if you can.
If not, just sing American vetch.

We come out of the backcountry to the news,
this sad music of the world. Bombing at a summer camp.
A teenager murdered his parents, threw a party.
Out of my guzzling window, the sun bounces down
to touch peaks. The glazed Tetons
are still rolling, credits of a summer daydream.
The grass just won’t learn to self-destruct, as we have.
I am not speaking for anything but my skin
in the cricket-swept air. Just these two eyes
awash with the continual surprise of Parnassians. Yes,
hold your hands that way, bound. Wildflowers abound.
I am yellowing as this meadow, dusted by our tires.

On the path that eyes have deemed beautiful,
traffic sputters in the snow. Red tracks are not, after all,
blood marks, do not necessarily lead anywhere, probably
signify buried flows of water. What fish feed there?
At Lake Solitude, a man seems to be pointing his camera
in my direction, the sun still a spotlight, even at this height,
in this heightened quiet. “There’s a mean cloud coming,”
she says to my weight-hunched back. There’s a cold lake
not waiting for us. Rippling, a sparkle set. “We are all tourists here,
except for the bears.” What would it mean to belong here?
To have made a home from sapping sticks?
Have I belonged anywhere yet? She wants
more vistas, more sun, more shade. She wants
what will unfold in her design. Language works
at a distance, cannot enter. The true lake of solitude
has not yet been seen, will not be named.

Sarah Schwartz is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Brown University. Hailing from the Midwest, she has spent the last five years displaced, first on the West Coast, and now on the East Coast. Find more of her critical and creative writing at and, and forthcoming in Catch Up and Sun's Skeleton.

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