Sherre Vernon (she/her/hers) is the award-winning author of Green Ink Wings (Elixir Press) and The Name is Perilous (Power of Poetry). Her debut full-length poetry collection, Flame Nebula, Bright Nova was released in 2022. Sherre has been published in journals such as Tahoma Literary Review and The Chestnut Review, nominated for Best of the Net, and anthologized in several collections including Fat & Queer and Best Small Fictions. Sherre teaches poetry at the Downtown Writers Center for the YMCA of Central New York.
The old man at the market asks in Russian if the chocolate he’s holding is dark, is right—
sugar-free. I’m stuck in the cases. Of the tongue, of nouns. My words are stark, not right.
Those are not the words in Latin: logos of your desires. My spine curves forward & I can’t
find your hands. Today I will sit in front of the river. Today I will set the heart aright.
At the nature center, animals ravage trash. A strong gust takes our tent. Too much
sun on our feet. Two sets of colored pencils & you can’t find the green, dark & right.
I sit with you under a tree & we answer questions from cards. I owe you a letter, a petal.
There is no one listening here. You were texting when I drove the car out of sight.
Happy, fresh, happy: synonymous with arrangement. The flower times. The weather semi.
I’ve forgotten the word for branches. Say a finger sticks out from the tree bark, upright.
Salt water. Grey-haired pelicans. I park on the wharf, don’t drop the keys through the lattice,
don’t throw them past the kids jumping off. Kids asking if I want to race the sharks tonight.
Ice cream outside the fortune teller’s window. Palm trees. Empty pools. Dried up springs.
When I give over from chameleon-self to stone, they cling to me: monarchs in wing-rite.
Not stone, but wood. The yo-yo, the span-dancer, the tidal moon. My elderhood is closer
than our youth & I have a tenderness for everyone who has ever loved you, my starkest night.
Out, my car swears today with the fight of a cat, running, out-running the flash. Mud:
danger; you: a flood warning. Bridge of silence, bridge of stone. We should park for the night.
Windshield. Grey plume in mathematics, in rainwater. Open an array of sunlight, silk. In the
window, these handprints are so small. The motel office flows with boxes of Jesus’ light.
O seedy motel. Stained couch. Senior discount says, $49 a night. You’re walking back
from market with two coffees, two muffins. The sun is just another patriarch of light.
Here I am again, your words like haptics in my mind. Too silent to intrude, but there there:
Sher’ka, Sher’ka. This is all untrue & I have lied about nothing & nothing makes my heart right.
[i](pronounced “Ha-tell-key,” meaning small, wistfully-wanted things)