ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Three Sonnets by Sarah White


painting sarah white

Resemblances, by Sarah White



A sacred shroud, a sacred veil, spots
on a mildewed wall, random spills of oil
or ink have all been known to bear the face
of some absent  person. Even a freak cheese
sandwich was said to show the Virgin’s 
features. For a long time, I tried and failed
to record my brother’s face and expression.

Once, visiting his house, I sketched him
on a napkin. It worked! He was nearly there!
But when I tried to make a careful copy
I completely missed the mark. Any
observer might have said:
Who do you think you are, Jesus
Christ, to bring back the dead?



All I want to do is paint, but maybe
I could work on sonnets while I wait
for the marks to dry on a landscape of Siena
in its two earth shades, raw and burnt, 
      both spelled with double n,
while the town itself has only one, and one
famed horse race whose competitors careen
downhill from the black and white

striped cathedral, its gleaming nave
inlaid with New Testament lore
like the “Massacre of the Innocents.”
Amazing, the mind and conscience
of an artist who can arrange slain infants
so lovingly along a marble floor.


Speaking for Bears

I worry most about the bears—
the creatures least to blame, and least prepared
to starve or drown. I confess
to caring more for little beasts

than little babies. I tar a human
child with a human brush unless
he’s gone abroad and seen
the she-bear travel by snow-shoe to the edge,

arriving at  a ledge where bears
 can only fish, not hunt for seal.
How will the mother bear up if her cub
doesn’t get enough protein or fat?– 
bogged down in a Sea of Tupperware
which, for a cub, is no fit habitat.


Sarah White is the author of 6 collections of poetry, the most recent being "Iridescent Guest" (Deerbrook Editions, 2020). A chapbook, "Fledgling," is forthcoming from Wordtech Communications. She lives in Manhattan and divides her time between poetry and painting.
These sonnets are part of the chapbook "Fledgling".

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