ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Sarah White


Funeral in the Valley of the Loire 

In the vaulted church, alongside René's
relatives from Lille, alongside his elder
daughter, sobbing louder than the words
of comfort neighbors murmur
for Thérèse, his widow in the early trances
of bereavement. We wondered
at the absence of the younger daughter.
(Had anybody even called her?)


Signaled by a knell, the Mass was over.
We filed out, numb with cold,
through the Western portal, observed
by our grey lady, Notre Dame de Cunault.  
The funeral vehicle crackled
on the gravel as if its wheels would rather
slither downhill, back into the village
where, in late November,


we'd seen René, our neighbor,
laboring to cover naked shrubs
against the coming winter.


Lancaster, Pennsylvania: A Visitor's Guide


King and Queen Streets meet
at the center of our town
to create a covered market
and a monument to Soldiers
and Sailors in granite caps.


Prince and Duke Streets
refuse to intersect
out of respect
for Pennsylvania's deep taboos.


On Walnut, Chestnut, Lime,
stars and stripes
are hung most of the time,
and favorite hymns—"Faith
of our Fathers"— chime.


In the countryside,
covered bridges span
the Conestoga—
native name
bestowed on wagons
when they headed west.


Carpenters and wrights
spread canvas wide and tight
over precious gear of pioneers,
 who crossed the awful plains
under awful rains—


as Bibles, guns, and feed,
livestock, dogs, and seed,
daughters, sons' and wives
traveled dry and sound
far from the friendly town.


The Surprise

As the painter said,
it's as if
the game were to fish
words from a brook
with a seine
or a slotted spoon—
bug, scum, weed, leaf,
and as if, from upstream,
came a fly—
trout fly,
a "Royal Coachman" 
tied by my brother some
time ago, floating like a grief
between the surface
and the weeds underneath.


All the poems in this and the previous issue of Offcourse will be published in the same collection,
 to be entitled What Beauty is for.  Sarah White's five previous collections include Alice Ages and Ages (Blaze Vox, 2007), and 'to one who bends my time' (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

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