Sara Quinn Rivara


When did my body become a seedpod, burst open and brittle? I am still cavernous
with hunger. At first, I loved scotch broom blooming near the highway each June,

how yellow, how bright. The biologist next door chided it’s a blight,
chokes out anything native.
I don’t tell him I love how the seedpod explodes,

launches seed further and further up the embankment, how early summer blazes
xanthic along the ordinary highway. Yet, God, I’ve been so sad.

Weed-fields sour in fire season. Once my lover groaned at a middle-aged poet
who read poems about the aging body. More menopause poems, haven’t we had

enough? His eyes rolled. And because I believed I would always be opalescent
(don’t we all?) I smiled and agreed, put my hand in his lap.

At some point, a woman must forget blooming, how bright the body
how violent. By late summer, only furred and withered pods hang

on the stem, seeds covering the field like stars. O, what was it I taught
my son about the stars? Once we can see their fires, they are already gone.



At The Far Edge of Paradise

Dear X——

Today my son said, kindly, it’s nice that you’re past the age of caring
how you look
. When I jerked my head up he said no, that’s not what I
But it is what I mean: I am tired of writing about myself. I want

to push every poem toward something important, something that says
I lived and some of it mattered, though most of living is just toilet paper
and laundry, driving the same stretch of highway to the same soul-killing

job. Anyway, I’m just a minor poet in Somewhere, America where it is sleeting
sideways and we’re out of milk. Adam named the animals and Eve swallowed
their names like pomegranate seeds before she slipped into the underworld

for a few months to get away from family life. After long enough
all stories with women are the same. Pink mold in the shower.
Everyone wants something different for dinner and no one

thinks you’re fuckable anymore. I mean me. But you’re also 43, though
in Somewhere Else, America, but it might be the same. Perhaps your mailbox
is also full of spider eggs and in the shed a hive of bees have formed

their winter cluster around the queen, shivering and dancing to keep
what’s important alive. I know not everything survives. I remember waking
in Venice after the midnight train from Lyon, how we thought we’d always

be friends. Well, I did. Years happened and then we didn’t speak. Once,
drunk, we lay on the floor of our walkup apartment, and imagined
names for our imaginary children we would have with imaginary

men. Then it was just me, my shitty first marriage, this miracle kid
and you had vacations to Puerto Rico. I imagine your immaculate
kitchen, your books alphabetized on a dustless shelf. Now, every poem

is an attempt to keep the woman I am from becoming a turnip,
a radish, a day old ham. I am becoming someone no one can see.
It’s still sleeting and the power has gone out. I apologize.

I hope it’s okay I’m writing to you here in the empty garden,
everything slick with ice. Where I can see my breath, where it smells
of nothing but cold. The groaning you hear is up in the cedar

where something is singing. Something old and tired and ready to fall.



Sara Quinn Rivara's work has recently appeared in Rogue Agent, Colorado Review, West Branch, Whale Road Review, Pidgeonholes, Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. She is the author of two collections of poetry, Animal Bride (Tinderbox Editions) and Lake Effect (Aldrich Press). Raised in the Great Lakes, she now lives and urban homesteads with her family in the Pacific Northwest.