By Sharan Strange
Creation by way of Sonia Sanchez Winner of the 2000 Barnard New lady Poets Prize
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Additional info for Ash
Penned on the truck, they whine like saws biting into reluctant trees. Exiting, their last exercise is a wild dance skirting madness, a graceless capitulation. I witnessed Herman— who learned his name, ate from my hand— and his holy-eyed terror said more to me than any apostle’s text. Poor swine, surrogate Christ, you got no redemption though you left this world your blood and body. ‘‘You don’t eat meat? ’’ But will gauntness save me, make me thin enough to slip the knife, noose, shackles, or the needle’s eye?
Nurses, eternally watching. , looked out the window, she saw her father, days after his funeral. Had he come back to the ﬁeld and the plowing left undone when the chain snapped and struck him, knotting his throat into pain and its aftershock of silence? Did he return to reclaim the work like a part of himself unfulﬁlled and his story untold? 44 He is with us still, she said to the inchoate brightness. He is there even now. Spirits are much the same in those uncensored hours—ﬂitting dim ﬁgures, half-remembered apparitions, whose industry renews and undergirds our own.
He had written to her some years afterward apologizing, it seemed, that life’s vicissitudes had kept them apart, and that he had married but would always cherish . . —like a mistaken prize reclaimed by another. How exacting and faithless love was, how impartial in its going. . She curses this wound of old hurt, betrayal of the past revisited. Each reminder of her loss ﬂoods the synapses 41 with disappointment and a new pattern of discontent hums in her. Her thoughts are bewildered, bitter. She despises those who sing so sweetly, so shrilly of facile love.
Ash by Sharan Strange