ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


"A Lover Found, a Brother Remembered: Three Poems" by Sarah White


1. Eleven-Line Lament

She wants a worry—a worse one
than the rainstorm, the hangnail,
the strident car alarm, worse
than the lost box of staples,
clips, and pins, or the shapeless fins
of her origami mermaid.

She misses former Discontents
and should have told her lover
it was wrong
to lift away the weight
after she had nursed it for so long.



2. I Meant This Poem  

            to be about a boy
who lived across the hall,
whose games I was too small
to understand, who seemed
so free to come and go
till he was sent to study   
for a year or two
in a distant dormitory room,

who returned in time
to see our father die,
and go (I stayed at home)
to the burial
where he was told
“to be a man”
for Mother, the boy
these lines were meant

to be about,
who, rather than become
insane with lonely worry,
married young,
became a father young
and said good-bye
before we’d ever said hello.



3. The Family Muse

            Pity the Muse
in our house: Mother’s
paintings hidden in the attic
like clandestine Jews.

a seldom-tuned piano,
refusing the arpeggios
of “Clair de Lune”

a teenage boy reciting
“Gunga Din” complete
with Cockney sounds—You ‘eathen,
where the mischief ‘ave you been?

 … I ‘ope you liked your drink,
 sez Gunga Din, and he dies—
me laughing, lurching
from the room, vowing
to become a poet
and show my own book
to my brother,
who would never look:
“Poems make me feel
like a boob.”

But wait.  Once, he and I
went to a class and shared
a set of soft pastels.
He fashioned me an easel
I could balance on a table
and it all went well.

The Muse –that floozy
friendly with Debussy—
saw what we could do, us two,
and was so surprised
she dropped her harp
and swooned.

Sarah White's most recent published works are “The Unknowing Muse” (Dos Madres, 2014) and “Wars Don’t Happen Anymore” (Deerfield Editions, 2015). A former Professor of French, she lives, writes, and paints on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Her work has appeared frequently in Offcourse.

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