Poem of the Week | May 04, 2010

As we continue to celebrate the release of our Editor’s Prize issue, 33.1: Uncharted, this week we offer “A Marriage Poem” from Sarah Blackman, finalist for the 2010 Editor’s Prize in Poetry. Sarah Blackman is the director of creative writing at the Fine Arts Center, a public arts high school in Greenville, South Carolina. Her writing has appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Versal and Forklift, Ohio among others. Her fiction chapbook Such a Thing as America is available from the Burnside Review.

I am trying to examine the experience of the domestic self as a made object, an art of being whose comforting stasis is imperiled by the dual impulse to both create and destroy.

A Marriage Poem

I am unmarried and do not know
how life is simplified by cruelties.
—Beckian Fritz Goldberg

It is the year
I have bartered away all my teeth.

My mouth is a lush place,
full of black usury and in return

I have a pair of new shoes,
a wheel of soft sheep’s cheese,

five of the world’s ten hottest peppers.
Where will I go, my mouth

so many wounds, that they
won’t know me by my absent bite?

How will I succor you, or the cat
we kept, or the one whose fleas

I am popping flat on my thumbnail
even as I reject her winsomeness?

Still, I don’t regret.
I am not a wife,

but maybe a window. Look
through me is the house,

is the water boiling,
a pepper slipped beneath the skin of the pie.

Look through me is the carefully arranged plate,
an eye for beauty, a terrible smile

all the worse because I mean it
so sincerely, am so happy

in these beaten hours
tapping back and forth across the boards.