ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


Poems by Sarah White

Song of Air, Earth, and Rain

The funeral machinery
winds him to the ground.
We murmur, 
and hold our little shovels 
with the loam that will cover 
and console him 
when we travel home
through November  air, 
earth, and rain

That was a year ago,
we’re here  again— 
his daughters, 
their spouses, the rabbi , 
and I. We’ve found him
in the same 
fogged -up  town
as if he’d always planned
to settle down here.

He hasn’t asked us where 
we’ve been. He doesn’t care.
He  only wanted us 
to find a pebble 
on the ground,
and place the stone 
on stone, then drink 
some autumn rain 
and breathe in 
all the sweet
wet air we can.


Water Under the Bridge

                   Sous le Pont Mirabeau coule la Seine,
                        et nos amours.” (Apollinaire)

I’d be glad to see my eyes 
reflected in your eyes again, 
glad to open a drawer 
full of folded metaphors
from poems born 
when you and I
were side by side.
I want your ears 
and mine to echo 
the same song about love’s joys—
l’amour, l’amour,
and the  chagrin
 goes on and on.

Everybody knows the waltz—
three pulses out of four—
none of them at all surprising, 
O l’amour, l’amour, the sounds
go down the river. Hours 
of love flow under the bridge 
when you stand
near the Seine and
extend your hand.


Never Again

The Painter and I      
were neighbors 
in a little college town—
two women traveling 
through the middle 
of their lives alone.

I remember how, 
one Saturday, as I was working 
on a poem, she called 
to ask the meaning
of Italian words she’d heard
on the radio.

Verdi violins
throbbed in her studio.  
Weekends, we often listened 
to the Met, consoled 
by the complaints 
of a jealous soprano, 
and a tenor’s serenade 
to his final
evenings stars.

As I explained 
the phrase mai più, I knew
that one of us soon, 
and, a bit less soon,
the other would be gone 
to where Saturdays, 
and calendars, 
were  all unknown.

She was the first one.
I wait alone 
to hear the soothing agonies
of tenors, sopranos,
and baritones.


The Future Perfect Vegetable

Say the Lord’s Prayer
as you boil the corn.
No sooner will “Forever 
and Ever” have been uttered
than the ears
become delicious and tender.

I had a poet friend
who injured her brain. All language
drained away—a disaster
for one with her vocation.  
To recover memory and speech,
she recited the Pater Noster
she’d learned 
as a good Catholic girl. 

As soon as Regnum tuum 
became  thy kingdom,
her native tongue returned—
“daily bread,” “forgive,” “deliver”—
until she was able 
to speak to the Lord again.

He listened. The water bubbled.
The kernels  grew so sweet
they could have been grown
in a field of sugar cane! 


Author Sarah White lives in New York City dividing her time between poetry and painting.  "Fledgeling," her chapbook of sonnets, has just been published by WordTech Communications.

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