s a r a h     m a r s h a l l






This wanting and unwanting
          this constant
          bending and

                    It is not for us, or not
                    for this place

                    and in the end you cannot tell me that we are not it.

                    look at the gristmill, the bones of the gristmill
                    broken windows like cavities, their darkness, a sweetness
                    a sweetness half-remembered, now in sleep—

                              what do we have to feel guilty for, if not for
                              our bloods flowing somewhere in this place
                              beneath our feet

                              beneath both of our feet
                              but not any others (for they walk somewhere else, or
                              think they do)—

                                        and this part of us, separated,
                                        unneeded, and bout

                                        calling and calling through the dark
                              of this hour
                              through the dark
                              of all hours:

                              there can be
                              no end to this

                              there can be no packing away of

                              the white graduation dress, yearbook
                              porcelain jewelry irised with silver, gold
                              the beads you wore that broke against my teeth

                              the bruises I gave you when I held you too tightly
                                        against all cold

                              the mark your hair left on the palm of my hand.

                              do not pack these things away.
                              do not dream of
                                        other places, of a child born a

                                        way from here:
                                        she will go back.

                                        your blood, your only blood
                                                  knows where it is needed
                                                  where it is unneeded
                                                  where it must be.

                              We are the lucky ones.
                              They all want homelands.
                              They all want the straight, the unendness, endless,


                                        and in all their losting lives there is nothing like
                                        the surging of your body, blood singing, blood

                                        against my arms, against that black wood
                                        beneath the thick air that knows our faces
                                        that will know how to touch them even when
                                                  we are gone.



Some catch their birds in lime—
on the stick their feet and wings will stick against

like flies on paper,
not like the flies
their sound goes unswallowed by the thing that

and they singout, singout, singout still

as if they have no knowledge of a hangman.

These are game for men in sweet, dry countries
                                and sustenance for us.

The birds here do not sing as their brothers
and will not rest beside an open palm.
                                They know what thumbs do.

When big ones still came here, we took them, too
                                But now there is only
                                This killing of a wrist’s weight
                                Gladly taken, behind the song

For wanting can become a game
Even for we who have no right
                                for anything but
                                the thumb’s weight,
                                the eversticking

                                wing on wood and wing wing on wing
                                                      and wingless flight of needing.


SARAH MARSHALL’s poetry has appeared most recently in The Roanoke Review, and her first published short story is forthcoming from Hayden’s Ferry Review in April 2012. She is a student in the MFA Fiction and MA English programs at Portland State University, where she also serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Portland Review. “Birding” and “Losting” depict the fictional town of Rose, Oregon, which is also the setting for her current work-in-progress, a novel titled Sparrowrise.

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