Sage

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Elliot Page Wore A Green Carnation To The 2021 Met Gala


Through the windowpane, the partygoers make faces at me while I try to show

a mirrorlonely boy that, though the end might come quicker for us since we’re poets


it’s the same ending everyone who’s ever lived has received.

It’s how we push our endurance, our effort towards a dailiness of feeling, that shapes us.


We are each of us the yet-unknown answer to someone’s long-held hypothesis about the world.

I’ve lost the ability to be automatic. Maybe this makes me too slow


to hang with the real poets or the people who’ve mastered sex (you can’t be both).

I think it means my hand has forgotten how to shape language


but the problems of the fingers are so often ignored for the problems of the brain

or the heart which, until full, still adheres to avalanche mechanics.


What I really want to tell you is I still feel a lick of fear at my neck going

up the stairs at night in the dark, as if some monster might be right behind me.


What I really want to say to you—what don’t I?

I am a contortionist of feelings, I am another word for mirror.


I didn’t have the knack for faith like I didn’t have the knack for sex, though I love

tarnished chains on a person’s favorite necklace they wear so much it burns copper-dull.


A coworker told me I have Dolly Parton mystique since I always wear long sleeves.

Thanks, I grew this body dysmorphia myself.


Watching the reactionary pander to typical nonbelievers, the gods poured molten gold

down the throats of their followers and enemies alike. Start over, start again with new blood.


My body is not always an easy place to be, but it’s where I live.

Victory is the intangible from which we draw the material.


I’ve garlanded a thousand laurel wreaths to give a thousand victors.

I’ve been through a thousand cities and each of them was worse for its walls.


Laws the universe put in place so long ago it forgot what they’re for are lost to us, like:

anything bad can happen to anyone good. There’s really no way to avoid


praise, that oldest of tricks we play on ourselves till even the gods are fooled.

And nobody mentioned his flower. All anyone could talk about was how badly his tux fit.

 

Grief Poem


During the creation of grief

God pulled a comet from the sky


named it Bearable

& lodged it in the chest of every person


who’s ever loved another person

through death. That is, the history


of humankind. I made

a pilgrimage to the end


the Earth promised & found not an edge

but a gate. A small stone held it open


for visitors—that’s heaven’s secret:

once you come & see you can’t


get back that way again.

The thing is, God loves misnomers


as he loves us enough

to fill our lives


with pain. Bearable?

Who in the face of such loss


has not crumpled to the ground

an imploding star, a universe


collapsing with theories & bargains?

I’ve bartered with every power there is.


How divinity loves to see us beg.

A bell diminishes in a steeple.


At the monument to perdition

a woman bounces a baby in her arms


in the eye of a storm.

Overhead, the sky weeps a field of comets.


Each new way to lose someone

is another way to love someone.


Kindred, kindling to the comet tail,

wherever I turn I see


doppelgӓngers of your light, visitor.

I have run out of room for more faces.


Poems are squeezed from me

by some instinctual pulper


without regard to

divinity’s formal limits;


no lyric, though, exists

which can replace.


So, build another. That’s why

we have more bridges than dams.


As I flew from one love to another

the river of my home below me


snaked through the city-lit blackness

a winding sheet of dark glass.


I looked into its body & saw the night.

I recognized you in its eternal leaving.


I have room in me for the faces of rivers.

I have room in me, come & see. You can


get back that way again, visitor.

I have left the gate open just for you.

 

Sage received their MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. Their poems appear in North American Review, The Rumpus, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Penn Review, Foglifter, and elsewhere. They live in Kansas.