Two Poems by Sharon Black

Being handed an envelope
or a tall lemon tea
can interrupt an education.
So can a wound on its own bed of salt.
I told you to go ahead
and catch up with them.
Last I heard they were deciding
on a country to feel sorry for.
Someone has to stay behind
to guard the produce, I added
as a way of volunteering
for something crucial
that was easy to do—
not like I couldn’t watch videos
on my phone at the same time.
There was this one of a big storm
blowing a slew of royal blue umbrellas
whimsically down the beach.
None of the tiny people could catch them.
It was the most fun thing.
Ways We Run
Like a loaf of bread in a birdcage you chase me and I run
like a sheet of beeswax rolled into a candle. I run like the tide
sucked off glass-covered rock as my bleeding heart drops
between my legs every 28 days, as my valise of pig’s feet
and Cuban cigars emerges from the shredded rubber curtain
of Customs. I run like a coatrack on wheels.
Like a child scribbles in different directions, I run from you—
like salt and green air lined with telephone poles,
like a deliberate breeze toying with a feather drives
the late afternoon into feverish deep rose
until the faithful dark husband of night comes home.
Into a library of cocker spaniels and the marble bank
with a robbery in progress I run and I’m like
a forgotten walking stick left in the umbrella stand.
Like sap and tumescent I.V. bags I run, I run either way
Caribbean or Caribbean is pronounced, like it’s Spring and I run
into you melting, less and less of me freezing back again
so I take off like a cheetah in the body of a sunken pumpkin.
I run from you like any piece of furniture that needs repair
and the long since broken stair not to mention the red that
pinks the whole wash. If I just go through the motions I run
like the Census Bureau or the built-in sink or the double oven.
Sometimes I run into trouble, debt, people I haven’t seen.
I run out of gas, money, lines, excuses. I run around,
which is to say, in circles and then I get run down so I leave
like a steeple and it’s no wonder you follow like sheet music
lifting off a balcony or a knocking radiator, you follow me
to the edge of the continent, to the back of the auditorium
on big cat paws. Oh you’re onto me, ash-robed and barefoot
through broken windshield, past old men at checkers
over a crippled card table steadied with The Reader’s Digest,
past a thousand articles of faith and a phone booth of fireflies,
past history and hydrangeas, past the mendacious lace of kindness
and the crueler suits of half-truth, past rape on a baize-covered
table and surgery in the closet, above ozone and organized sports,
below the larva-white bellies of mating snakes, around
beauticians and barbells, through schmoozing herds
of plaid sheep and sidewalk diners with flaming hair
and students of philosophy leaning over Wittgenstein
like celery hearts and still you pursue: through putrefactions
of desire, pinetum and strip mine, through nothing but nasturtium
and high tension lines, around the Radio Song and the Cape
of Good Hope only now we are taking on water, we are taking
chances which is how we meet by accident at the fish farm
and later by the dishwasher you back me into a corner
with nowhere to turn so I turn and the whole mouth
of the universe opens and I duck into it.

Sharon Black, a recently retired librarian, is published in a variety of journals, including The South Carolina Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Mantis, Poet Lore, Mudfish, Rhino, GW Review, Verse Daily, Painted Bride Quarterly, and forthcoming in The Hamilton Stone Review. Her poetry has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Wallingford, PA but also likes to hang out in the Saranac Lake region of the Adirondacks with her husband and dog.