June 5, 2014

Two Poems by Sarah Russell

On the Île de la Cité,
heartbeats away from Notre Dame, 
souvenirs, bus tours, near 
Pont St. Louis on Quai aux Fleurs
old men fish. 
Every morning,
smelling of garlic and yesterday's catch,
they bring square wicker baskets,
dulled by years of grime,
with lunch, bait, and bottles
filled and recorked at the marchand du vin.
They mark the days wedging those corks
in the seawall's crags --
hundreds of corks to use as bobbers 
or simply to say 
Pierre, Guillaume, 
Jean-Luc were here, ate fromage 
and saucisson, threw crumbs to pigeons,
heads and guts to feral cats
who rubbed against their cuffs,
spoke of youth or war
or nothing at all,
and fished.
Stage 4
We meet at the park on Tuesdays --
our habit of a decade. This time 
my dog doesn't recognize
my best friend's scent, masked 
by chemo.
Her smile is tired, losing its resolve;
her skin waxy, looking as if it'll rub off 
like her hair. She's wearing
the cap I knit for her, a garish orange halo
around her face. I should have picked pastel.
It's a blustering, wet March morning,
and we shiver in our slickers. As we walk 
she asks why now, when spring is soon, 
when the world's so bright?
It all looks gray to me, but when I hug her 
under the umbrella, I almost see the colors 
that she sees, glistening in her eyes.


Sarah Russell is in metaphor rehab after spending many years teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her short stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and online venues including The Houseboat and Misfit Magazine. She won the Goodreads poetry contest in February, 2014. See more of her poems at www.SarahRussellPoetry.com.


  1. I like "Stage 4" very much, this paradox, that the approach of death prompts the friend to see more clearly, to want the world .... This poem could so easily have been overdone and slid into bathos, but Sarah Russell has just the perfect gentle touch for the material.

  2. I enjoyed these poems very much - especially "Corks."