Sarah Winn


Nourished in Latin, Spanish for soul,
in Arabic, on the water.  
I translated the Buckeye blossoms spelling
directions on the street, words
in a language only I knew,
a secret message between me and the trees—
their scent as I walked up Alma Avenue
everywhere.  They shaped me as they blew past,

whispered the Hungarian meaning —apple.
I was measured against the hunchback Baldwin tree,
nourished by the rain returning to lakes, in showers, in drizzles.
Cut out by the pieces of the moon jigsawed with maple branches.

Shaped by erosion, a gorge of girl,
gorgeous, engorged by trees.
pitted by tart cherries giving over to sweetness.
transformed by weeds turned into dandelion salad,
shored up by life on lakes which were named for carrying.
I was made to portage, by Portage,
lifted from one lake and carried to the next,
made to find joy in journeys.

Taught this Alma, Aramaic, my world
begins in in-between,
learned to read words scrawled on screen doors
as cuneiform, rain-worn. I traced
petrichor to its origin—our vestibule.
Ran down the worn desire paths,
followed creases made by ironing day,
the smell of steam and hot cotton,
I entered the square stacks
of handkerchiefs in dresser drawers,
folded, pressed, intent.

I sorted the wheat pennies from copper chaff
kept in a wooden bowl.  I counted.
The number of pennies—
how far from Alma I still must go.

Artwork on this page:
Detail of Valentine for a cougar
31.5 x 74" oil on wood, 2005
Irene Hardwicke Olivieri

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