Three poems

ROMANCE
Everyone’s a serious seventeen,
and so, one night, we married in the woods —
though having to make curfew spoiled the mood.

You wore, of course, a kind of smock.
I was bright as a jester in metres
of daffodil gauze, my metals

dyeing my skin. We had, we knew, it all:
the chalices, the incense, the Lovers’ Tarot deck —
and, nearby, the baptizing rush of river. The air smells

like the mulch of primeval concupiscence! I cried,
and what could you do but agree?
Ants travelled patiently under our raiment;

the sex was athletic and wise …
and then we touched foreheads
with a new strain of sorrowful dignity,

for although we were rural,
we were never deep enough in to mistake
the humming of wires overhead.

 

THE SWORD DANCE
for Michelle

There were so many things I hated, at seven:
group activities, talking, children
    younger than me,

and how Meghan, my dance teacher,
loved the other kid despite
    his sloppiness:

drooling, tripping, kicking the meter sticks
we crossed in an X
    to practice the Sword Dance —

(which used to be done only after the enemy died) —

and I watched Meghan’s throat spend the whole hour heating
the metal necklace she wore.
    I smiled as hard as I had been taught,

though I couldn’t stand seeing
her satiny arms around that dirty eater,
    his nose close

to the strawberry birthmark on her cheek
that she touched whether happy or sad.
    Each night I lay in bed

punching my stomach, hoping this practice might mean

that next time, Meghan and I
would be alone. But every week
    there he was,

rat-tailed and panting,
and every week I tied
    my black leather laces so tight up my calves

the Xs remain.
I wanted to jump so high that I’d spend
    an hour at least only falling,

and hit every planet on my way to the concrete floor.

I wanted to see him walked
up the basement stairs,
    through the warm,

plaid-papered kitchen,
given an apple
    and maybe

his shoes,
coaxed through
    the sliding glass doors to the porch,

then dragged to the wood shed and strangled.

 

MY SISTER AND I, WE KNOW WE ARE FILTH

My sister and I, we know we are filth, so we proceed with great caution
    when we enter the world that was saved for us.

        Unlocking our mother’s door, prying open her chest,
    plunging our hands in the powder and silk —

we know we could be in her bedroom for years,
    and yet we forgot to pack meat for our journey.

        Orchids and lilies pattern her walls. When we tire of smelling
    our own bodies, we spray her perfume in the air

and it rises in a sparkling font, lingers, then falls. Now,
    I rip a velvet headband with my teeth. I spit

        the sequins at my sister. Now, she is using our mother’s tweezers
    to pluck black hairs from beneath her navel,

while I turn my face to the vaulted ceiling
    and hold my breath till the sparks come.

        We know we are in this up to our waists. But still we’re ashamed
    to want what we cannot name. My sister’s trailing her tongue

across our mother’s mirror, and I am imagining this unnameable something
    passing swiftly out of her, as I want it passing swiftly out of me —

        but we both know the dark will come on
    like someone pushing their thumbs into our eyes —

our mother will find us here and stride towards us
    arms and coat open to show she means no harm —

Sara Peters was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and was a 2010—2012 Stegner fellow at Stanford. Her first book, 1996, will be published in April by Anansi.