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Sample Poems by Sarah White

Round Painting in the Prado

Limp and pinkish in the Flemish fog, a blossom
is drawn, with slender forceps, from the patient's
moist incision. His face twists into a foolish grin
as he prepares to pay the Surgeon and the Carmelite
nurse some coins he carries in a red suede purse.
The Doctor wears a robe, and a funnel rather than a hat.
Is that a gallows on the hill behind him? The eminent
Netherlandish impresario-Alchemist, who might be
a disciple of great Paracelsus,
has draped across the stage a lettered banner
bearing the patient's words: he asks the doctor
to cut out a stone, thus entitling the drama-
(Why is it that I so much like this?)

Speaking for Bears

I worry most about the bears-
the creatures least to blame, the least prepared
to starve or drown. I confess
to caring less about our babies
than our beasts. I tend to tar a human
child with a human brush unless
she happens to have gone abroad and seen
the she-bear snowshoe to the edge,
ending up on ledges where bears
can only fish, not hunt for seal.
How will the mother bear up if her cub
doesn't have enough protein or fat-
bogged down in the Sea of Tupperware
where a cub finds no fit habitat!


Lady Liberty, godmother of my souvenirs,
rules the skyline of Manhattan, raising high
her weightless lamp. I plan to agitate
the town, invert its lofty structures, and shake
from the concave sky a waxy shower.
I want to make another winter hour
and trim with frost the city's girders.

East of my home town stands Paris, France
with its Unknown Hero's Tomb, its Arch
of Triumph where smug invaders marched.
May they be the last. May Our Lady's spire,
lately burnt to ashes, be restored.
May the dome of Sacr'e Coeur remain intact-
a snow-white cake wrapped in a winter blanket.

Julia Newberry Draws the Plan of Her House, Destroyed by Fire, October, 1871

What ground plan? What formal and
informal wing? what pantry and what potting shed?
what library? what chronicles of somber men?
what portraits on the stair? what porcelain
bonbonni`ere? what melting, within the safe,
of patterned silverware? what attic space? what
staircase? what door knocked far off plumb?
What drawings? lessons? bound albums?

What windowsill? What playthings laid aside?
What dollies roasted one by one? What telegraph?
What coded words of broken hope?
What crash of fortunes? What excursions
to which springs? How pure
are they? What hope of cure?