[untitled] a tone poem


Today was a new bird on the Canal St. Martin, a bird large & long-necked, with a clownish face, yellow beak & dark crest, who dove with hardly a splash & came up far down the canal. i tried to take its picture but every time i got close enough for a decent shot, it turned quickly, skittishly, wildly & made for the opposite bank.

Unnamed bird, you are like this being here, like this day i try to fix, skittering out of reach…

Today was also chickweed, bunches of tiny green ears listening along the stairs of the bridges.



Of the canal’s several bridges, shaped like inverted crescent moons, my favorite is the highest, the one that makes me feel dizzy, as if i’m standing on the moon, or am perched in a chestnut tree…

The bridge is much sturdier, i hope, than a chestnut tree’s high limbs.

Today was moss & lichen & the damp-burlap scent of corners, which mimics the scent of home.

Today was old heavy iron rings set among the paving stones, rings used perhaps for tying up boats, for making them fast. Now weeds make fast around the rings, little grasses that remind me of Poa annua–& may be that very strain, who knows?

There are so many similarities between the Old World & the New, & yet being here is not at all like being there. Why? How to put a finger on it?

Begin with the bird whose name i don’t know, end with the man whose question i can’t follow…

Today was getting lost, turning in directions that felt “wrong” only to find they were “right.” Finding myself on the Rue des Vinaigriers when i’d thought it ran perpendicularly to here.

Where is here? Where am i? Who are you?

Courage said the young man who thought she was ridiculous for asking.

Confidence is for sissies said a wise & older friend.

Today was the gray of wanting but not being able to touch what you want, that necktie, that silk scarf in the shop closed on Mondays. Or the museum open odd hours but never when you come.

Still, today was odd hours.

You saw three sparks/And then nothing The dream/The dream the sun* 

Today began with a dream as so many here do. The house had been completely changed; someone else was living there, or about to live there, after the oddments on the porch had been sorted & given away…


*Apollinaire, [Untitled], translated by Ron Padgett





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Poet. Writer. Curious person. Yurt-dweller. Word enthusiast. Northwesterner. Looking for poetry in some of the usual & many of the unusual places...

One thought on “[untitled] a tone poem”

  1. Sara, I can feel the low-level (sometimes) anxiety of trying to hold what cannot be held, of trying to grasp time, of trying to make this now be mine forever. Oh, your writing is so evocative.


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