Two Poems

by Miriam Sagan

Stick Chart

it’s not a map
or even a story

rather a mnemonic
for the situation of islands

the way I might trace
your face in the dark

the problem of topography
was that dreams, dissolving

flavored the day
with loss, and disorientation

of arriving at the train station
late at night

and not understanding
where Tokyo was

in the imagination
which is why

when we got off the local
in the neighborhood of food stalls

I burst into tears
seeing the full moon rise

like a whole note
on wires

I thought I was
in a Edo woodblock print

but when I looked
at my silk sleeves

I saw you’d shaved your head
and burned to ash.

Dark Shell

in the desert
you whispered in my ear

child, you shall have
everything you desire

in the outrigger canoe
steer by the Pleiades

birds, clouds
do not mistake

those harbingers of land

every language has a mother

the fewer relatives
the older things are

you, daughter of my daughter
know everyone

we hold you up

you’ll do that yourself

 Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon). which won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement in 2016 Her blog Miriam’s Well ( has 1500 daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. She was at  Kura Studio, Itoshima, Japan, where she was working on text installations as part of the creative team “Maternal Mitochndria.” Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.

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