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Carly Sachs


The Shattering


Where is the promise—-

at what point, your I will


or I do? You and I were

the then of us.


You lifted your foot and

broke the glass.


The crowd cheered.

Who carted away the pieces


wrapped in linen, same flesh

as my dress? How callous


and precise your foot,

my love. In another version


you are unassuming and clumsy,

your lips crashing to mine like


that first one, Octobers ago

in the cold electric


changing of the seasons.

Even today,


do I

even know you?



Eve Returns


How then do we come back to each other:

changed unchanged

a lifetime or nothing between us?

Is your hand only your hand

or everything else you’ve touched?

How then can I love you,

or because we have unravelled

can I now love you?

What purpose did it all serve—-

the fruit, the snake

that longing for perfection?

What do any of us know of

some other plan, the things

we’re destined for, a g-d above

playing the strings.

Call the heart seed

or beast, blood vessels and

veins, roots or ropes

we come to each other with our bruised and our blame,

our hopes.



The Leaves Are


What do the trees know of loss—-

each leaf, one small grief

to press between the pages of





in the park in the city —-

elsewhere, there’s the rake:

trash bags at the end,


taken away at dawn




hold my hand,

I want to pretend that




Your father leaves your mother

Your mother leaves your lover




You love the smell of pine,

the idea that

something stays

through the year




Your older cousin passes.

On the phone, his wife says

He’s still here

You think of him laughing

at Sardi’s. Of course.




You tell yourself you are creating order

You do the dishes and go for a run,

the red leaf before

she learns to be afraid of



So Neatly Packaged


I meet my boyfriend in Times Square for lunch after finding out the diagnosis,

everything goes on: the lunchtime rush, the high heels and sunglasses, the need

for coffee and a break, a walk, to press into someone you love on a busy street


to let them know the news. Our lattes and our lives, the billboards buzzing

with all their wanting as we sit on Broadway, our sandwiches so neatly packaged,

made fresh as promised by the sign, how everything renews, the sun shining,


the skyscrapers reaching up, heaven meeting earth here, the center of the universe,

how we all find ourselves here, year after year, watching the ball drop

as we resolve to be better partners, to lose weight, to do something different


this year, and now it’s July, how close and distant those promises seem,

the countdown until something, everything, anything happens. It’s Monday.

We kiss sans confetti, sans pomp or circumstance.



At the Fire Circle


Which one of us is not skeptical, not trusting.

We come with our sticks and our burning,

our prayers and the space we make for others

to pray.


We kneel in the stone and blow into twig and branch

feeding the fire with what we no longer want.

Which one of us does not want to feel lighter,



We repeat the chant, our voices and our sticks consumed,

 I watch Faith place her hands

on her belly as if there was or will not be a baby.


Which one of us does not hurt?

A girl pulls her cut hair from a bag.

Someone holds her afterwards


and after they embrace, a laugh rises from the rose

of her mouth. Which one of us does not want to let go,

to be an ember rising towards the darkening sky.


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