Sasha West


people we love flew to us to toast us

          maps of the coastline were drawn, erased, redrawn

for your hand I would give my hand

          red bud trees & a silver surface of light that cuts the darkness

we gather our lives under a common roof

          mosquitoes carry the disease back & forth across borders

an airplane over the ceremony cuts back

          into the real world, we have opened and entered love

wild describes what the fire does, not what it is

          another sliver of ice breaks from ice

if a come cry ascends the throat, if your body silvers me

          we empty the earth

here in the long schoolroom of love

          after the storm scatters its luminol, you can see what oil butchered

a joy that swallows the body whole

          the border wall rises, the droughts dry, the crops burn

is this what dominion feels like?

          back in the world’s dull throb

so quiet you’d never noticed

          bodies bent down the fields and the grasses and the wildflowers

we’d arrived in the American dream




my daughter curled against my body: small bundle of sleep

or mad attempt to: my husband’s hand on her back: my back:

now that I love my country: it can break me: I knew so little of

our history: tethered to a shallow training: schoolrooms where

yellow pencils lay still: our tongues dumb slabs in our mouths:

we thought it was enough not to be wrong: in those months

of our error: the bodies moldered: the years flickered out: I

chose training in the human not in public records: and: here

she is fierce and furless on my arm: I awoke pinned: I awoke

unmoored: in the history of my country: my friends far away

and childless: I was here in the isolation happiness makes when

we crawl deep enough inside of it: when we make of it a stone

to weigh our sleeping bodies down with: into our lives: forgive me



Sasha West’s first book, Failure and I Bury the Body, won the National Poetry Series and the Texas Institute of Letters First Book of Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in Kenyon Review Online, West Branch, Copper Nickel, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a manuscript about climate change. She is on the creative writing faculty at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.