Sara Moore Wagner
Housewife as Anastasia Romanov
There are fractions of moments I forget who I am,
like when I’m sitting on the couch waiting
out the evening, the clock dialing up each number so slow—
I fold my hands as I would a jewel into my hem,
and where did I go, just then? Identify my body
now for me, a long shadow on the wall
behind where my children play. I want to escape
death as I do my life each night, taking off this skin,
stepping into the mass grave of sleep.
Even if it isn’t me escaping but some other girl
with my same nervous eyes and fake front tooth,
some other who will eat all the chocolates
with her gloves on, not care about what’s spoiled,
about the body, identity—what can you identify
of me beyond this show I put on each morning, my face—
And even when you see my bones laid out, you won’t know
me. In the evening, I feel that settling or setting;
you won’t know me, but I’ll be the one you look for.
We pour the curds and whey through a cheesecloth to see what’s left over. When I say see, I mean with my eyes which I often forget are organs, organic, full of tissue. Will decay. How my skin reflects light like an oily casing. What’s there—what is it we’re making here, in the dim kitchen light, straining. I say eat this and you do. Your tongue is a pink muscle moving out—I kiss you because I don’t want to be made of flesh, like this. To need to make something to feed you. I want to be it. Enough. A spoon, or road, or color. To be a yellow light at the base of you. To not know a word like fester, cluster, mold—to steep, then burn out with a smell like drought. This is how I’ll love you: until we become something else. Until it’s done.
Housewife as Archetype
If they knew more, they’d tend to us less.
We wrap ourselves domestic, in foil or cellophane,
but our skin unpeels in shadow, sweats
like the browned cheese on the noodles
we re-heat and re-heat.
Add water and a dash of salt.
I have made you this to feed you.
If you knew more, you’d imagine me spoiling
and ripening, you’d want to cut off
my bruised bits, to save me as any delicious
bite. But I’m hysterical, hysteric. Listen,
I have not been coming here to hurt you, but to tend
some fire until we’re all full and warm, or else
to put something between
my legs and ride away.
First Anniversary Sonnet
Teach me how to be quiet and I will listen
to what you have to say. Even when I’m not
speaking, the sand pours from my open mouth.
What will you do when we are both so buried
in these vows we’ve made, we cease
to have bodies of our own? This granulated
voicelessness mountains. Even now, you run
your hand over my constricted stomach,
and I use every bit of breath to pray,
crush us—crush us—crush us: both of us.
Crush us. I want to be that someone you dreamed
up, silent on a hilltop, gentle, pristine. Teach me
how to not cleave open my breastbone,
every single morning. Teach me to want it.
Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Glass, Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review's Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com.