April & I fist the days as if
the calendar’s pages were the ruffles
on my sundress. I dress the nicks
on my jaw with springs & hands.
Undress & redress. Make it tick
in time with the neighbor’s world
clock. Let me tell you again about
last Tuesday, when Mama had me
cut her bangs straight across,
the split ends forming all the dodged
questions left over on the floor.
Look, the living room is so full
of old takeout and fossils. How
honest. In another life, I imagine
the bones must discover themselves
in a sheath of blubber & teach me
how to backstroke. Feel the river’s
slow pulse & the slick of fish
coiling around me like twine.
I confess: I want to touch my body
in the dark. Hands empty & gullible.
To play cartographer & mark the
frontline of every frontier with
red flags. Should I rewind. Should
I stop the mailman. Should I pick
up the landline. Then maybe this time
I’ll see the lightning before
it hits the prairie. Or the back-
hand before its crack.
Either way, this house will
overturn as the cosmos spirals
on its axis. The alarm
clocks will trip & shatter
& I will be left holding
onto nothing but my dazed
sundress. Here we are,
the ground in splinters
of kindling, soot tracking
the grass. Watch: this sky
blemished. This field.
Our two bodies—
like it was meant to.
—from 2020 Rattle Young Poets Anthology
Why do you like to write poetry?
Sarah Lao: “I like to write poetry because there are no rules. If I want to cut out all the punctuation or make every noun a verb, I can, and if I want to spend two hours writing one line, I can. In that sense, it’s very freeing. I can put all the emotions I’m usually not sure how to express into a set of images, and somehow, whether it should work or not, it does.”