Poems by Sara Moore Wagner


My Mother as Moses’s Mother


My mother likes to tell the story,
those late nights I’d eat stale fries
in the break room while she worked
the drive thru, those weekends I’d spin
in a swivel chair at the laundry mat—
She built me a better basket, straw
woven so tight not one bit
of the river seeped in.
Before my mother met God face to face,
she was a girl with a small child
the world said get rid of,
and she held me until she couldn’t,
then she put me in the water.
Who chose me but the sky.
Who would take me in.
Whose baby was I—
In the night, passing by,
the deer picked the corpses
of the cornfields.
I fogged up the window
with my river breath.
Papyrus and pitch.
Still, she sang,
you are my only light. 


The Way We Stand in Relation


I can’t see my son in his green coat
at the bus stop because of how the earth
has turned. The sun on my phone
is blinding. I’m not looking
where I should.
Aristotle was right.
The stars are orbs of glowing meat
melting on wires above us.
The mechanics of the universe turns
like the unknown mechanisms of the internet.
It’s unnatural, what a person can know
and unknow. Maybe, if we stand
close enough in the winter,
the static will build up so all the alarms
and notices go off. I send my son a message,
I’m here, love. I see you even when I don’t,
when he is gone, up the steps to the bus,
to school. Help me marvel
at creation the way a child would, help me notice
that every glimmer is something dead, that
the puddles are maybe full of my father’s
last breath, the water that left him, funneling into
the earth, becoming energy and mass,
like any other thing. And a woman says to me,
can’t you see it, God is so Good.
And no, from where I’m standing, I can’t see my son
in his green coat, I can’t see the moon, yellow
and lit up, here but gone.


Sara Moore Wagner is the author of Swan Wife (Cider Press Review Editors Prize, 2022), Hillbilly Madonna (Driftwood Press, 2022), and two chapbooks. She is also a 2022 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award recipient, a 2021 National Poetry Series Finalist, and the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com



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