About the Writer
Sarah Certa was born in Germany in 1987. She is the author of RED PAPER HEART, a limited-edition chapbook from Zoo Cake Press (2013). Her poems appear in Narrative, B O D Y, Metazen, Paper Darts, and elsewhere. She lives in central Minnesota.
Today I am staying in my t-shirt and underwear
with so much sadness
in every ounce of my body, like being cradled
in the achy arms of the flu, and because there is nothing
else to do, I might as well climb onto the rooftop
and think about flamingoes, whose wild pink wings have been flashing
across the white sky of my brain all week for no apparent reason. I might even
light a cigarette. I might even smoke it. I might even call
the first friend I made in college, the poet
who bought me wine and kissed me on the cheek, said I looked
just like his ex-girlfriend and wouldn’t I like
to be his supermodel? Why not be his supermodel
and traipse across the tight-ropes of his world in six-inch stilettos with a martini in one hand
and a silk neck tie in the other, wear lipstick and make movies
in the living room of his dreams? I wonder if wearing lipstick
would make me feel older. Right now I feel like a living room
that needs to be rearranged. My knees keep knocking
into my nerves, which keep tripping
over my anorexia and into
my arms. I hate that I have to keep reminding myself
that I am an adult. I hate that I don’t know
what that means. If Victoria’s Secret knew everything about sexy
they wouldn’t be selling bras. Just white t-shirts
and mango-flavored chap-stick. Movies of men cooking dinner while outside
an end-of-August storm creeps over the horizon like a bruise
on your spine you didn’t know was there but like
to press up against because it makes you feel like you’ve done
something. This morning I got the mail from the mailbox
and that was something. I got a letter and that made me happy
but then I realized I had to open it
and I was sad, like tearing apart the seams
that keep a secret, when I opened the letter I thought I heard the sharp
first cry of a newborn, and so from now on I want to keep all my letters
unopened and next to my pillow forever, so that even after I die
they will always be there, the little pile of envelopes
with their little heavens breathing inside.
When I think about heaven I imagine
walking naked into the field across the street where
it’s 1968 and I’m somewhere in Canada
taking pictures of all the small white flowers licking at my ankles so I can make postcards
to send to all the people who live far away, all the people
I’m always thinking of, which is everyone,
every day. When I think about heaven I feel
the way my daughter must feel when she sees
I’ve been crying and offers me her tiny body
to hold. When I think about heaven I think maybe
I should stop thinking all together and move through the rest of the day
like the water that makes up more than half
of our bodies, how it moves
like a moan through the dark, curving
over the lip of a cup, holding on to itself longer than seems possible,
until the break, the spill, the tiny crash of the drip
of an IV next to the bed like the one that I’m in where
my veins are really no more
or less blue than yours, all these bruises
on my body from an ocean no one has named.
Poets are some of the emptiest people I know
is a thought that just hit me from somewhere in the back
of my brain, those shithead elves throwing snowballs at me.
My armpits are damp because I’ve spent
the morning alone on my couch, thinking about strands
of words like pearls, how much I want to kiss
every collarbone in the world.
How much I miss you.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a bird or
fingered myself, and now the morning is over and I’m still
on the couch, my belly full of pasta, my Christmas lights on and
my heart so steady I can feel it in my clit, that humming-
bird tongue where the tops of my thighs meet.
What are you doing and why isn’t it me?
I’m trying to let go of the person I am.
I’m trying to smile more.
I’m trying to stop trying.
I’m trying to break down the door and build playgrounds out of cotton,
spend more time moaning, invent prayers
to swallow like rosary
beads, holy pills on a string.
I want to choke on something beautiful
and then spit it back up
into the mouths of strangers on the street
so I can feel like a good citizen in my community.
I wonder if I have a disease.
I don’t care if I have a disease.
This is me on a Sunday.
Hello hello I’m a person in the world and I love you.
Hello hello I’m too stupid to say anything about war except
I love that millions of you have died inside me.
Where does all that sperm go?
is a question I am now seriously wondering, my vagina
walls like some sort of graveyard,
except it’s never sad. This is the first happy poem
I’ve ever written about dying, and I don’t know
enough about my bank account or refrigerator,
but I have both and today that’s enough.