Sarah Matthes


!50! !50!for Max


Inside your spine
a filament of light
keeps you alive.

It seams your eyes.
Your bones throw
their white shutters open to the blood.

You gather some attention
for being
the glowing boy.

People love you, because of,
or in spite of, or

Everywhere you go,
a crowd arcs in your wake,
like a sliver moon drawn

impossibly close to the sun.
So you do a little magic:
you stand, alive.

It’s nobody’s fault
that they’ve become
this thin hive —

eyes go to fire.
Your body balanced atop a slippery fulcrum.
On one side, Laugh

the goonish shuffle,
the flickering skin
and odd little cap.

And on the other, Cry
you take off
the cap.

How long have you lived
upon the edge of not living,
your life this great trick:

that we keep naming things
we think have disappeared
that were never even there.

Suddenly: Rain, wild and dizzy
as bees in a box, awakened by rain.
You run indoors

and hide under a sheet.
You begin
to understand

the night,
that it’s
the last.

Each inhale fans the flame,
each exhale melts the lungs
to lace. The windows are full of faces.

I try: No fear —
Death is the final antidote
to having a body.

I try: It’s okay, it’s okay,
I’m here,
I love you.

Sarah Matthes is a poet from central New Jersey. Her debut collection of poetry Town Crier won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and is forthcoming with Persea Books in April 2021. Selected poems have appeared or are forthcoming with Pleiades, The Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, Yalobusha Review,, Midst, and elsewhere. She has received support for her work from the Yiddish Book Center, and is the recipient of the 2019 Tor House Prize from the Robinson Jeffers Foundation. The managing editor of Bat City Review, she lives in Austin, TX.