Poetry by Sandra Yannone


Nothing moves in the breeze so exquisitely as that

which I imagine untangling in my fingers.

Look at the willow, her head of hair turned to gold

before she gives herself over to another season.

 How often have I stared through the kitchen’s glass,

raked the cracked pane just to simulate my hand’s

  desired nose dive into the full undertow of her?

Years ago, a poet sat stupefied mid-career in front of my poems

finally breaking down after a long five minutes to explain   

I just don’t believe anyone thinks like this.

I did what I could in that moment not to break the obvious to her

that someone obviously did. Later, she made a beeline for me

at the Bread Loaf cocktail party, too late, to apologize — 

I’d already waterboarded myself into a person who couldn’t imagine

a person who couldn’t imagine the preposterous impossible.

Like above, where this poem began its unravel, lavished

with drink, my head sleepwalks on the job, permits my hands

to seize a late-night opportunity to run in circles with heavy sheers

giving the wlllow, her long, chartruese bangs,

a jagged, unsavory trim. From the cement front steps,

the woman I sometimes crave laughs the night off

smoking. She says she wants to go to bed, to sleep, to rest

next to one she doesn’t know thinks like this.

I give my bed over to her, willingly,

as often as she likes. Between the seafoam sheets,

her back deliberately faces me. It’s all I can do to ignore

that guest of cedar hair my fingers want to grasp

like fraying ropes that I just can’t believe

won’t save me from my own precarious drowning,

the preposterous impossible proving once again

its staying power, showing up unannounced

when the least I can do is expect it.


From the corner of her mouth falls a whisper 

around the corner of the door, past the glass pane,

through the canals of my ears, an invitation blistering

through my brain like torrential rain.

In my refrigerator’s crisper sits the cucumber, 

patient, forest green. It can’t know the ache

of the peeler against its skin under

the faucet’s cold rush. It mistakes

the retrieving hand as some comfort, a pillow

of warm air reminiscent of the garden where the sage, 

parsley, rosemary and thyme grew. The hollow

part of my brain quiets the storm’s rampage, 

is learning how to utilize my best advice

while the cucumber chills alone anticipating the spice.


The moon stands tall tonight, 

still in midnight blue, just shy

of morning, tipping her cup

to pour out just a little, little of herself.

Meanwhile, the temple bells

dangle asleep from the front

porch’s left ear, the willow

rusts in rest, the telephone wires,

now more obsolete than ever, hold out

their arms in perpendicular repose

to the night turning into Wednesday

morning. The birds I can’t identify

stay hushed, hidden in their trees,

and I didn’t think I could feel anything

closer, than standing alone at my own

open front door while everything in me waits

to stay awake with you, awake with you 

through it all night – the things I know

I cannot know and want and those 

that I obviously likely do. And maybe,

just maybe, this is only another 

false start of something

sacred, another fault line cracked

open in a trusting hand. And so

I lift my left palm to cover the moon

the way I could learn to touch

your shining face, if you’d let me,

if I’d let myself be that far and close

to the night and you. And further up

and around, the eyes of the universe

watch for this moment, bearing witness,

because they have seen this

type of sacrilege so many times before

that they take nothing in their sights

for granted. They know these things

started slowly, so many, many lifelines

ago, just as we all learned in school

that light travels from where

we’ll never know to reach another

we think we always knew. It feels fine, 

Love, the water that is the sky that is 

the blue — cool, yet warm to the touch.

My hand now a glass I lift to catch

the rain flooding from the dawn. I had 

asked permission to drink this way

only once, and this time is now.

Can you asleep stop yourself and try

to do the same as morning breaks

into both our cities

like a perfect egg? 

Why is something halved always 

the illusion of the imperfect whole?

Poetry by Sandra Yannone

Sandra Yannone’s poems and book reviews have appeared widely in journals including Ploughshares, Poetry Ireland Review, and Lambda Literary Review. Salmon Poetry published her debut collection Boats for Women in 2019. She currently hosts Cultivating Voices LIVE Poetry Open Mic on Facebook on Sundays. Visit her at www.sandrayannone.com.

About the contributor

Related Articles


More Like This