Sarah Snyder

Ghost Clouds The mist rising from the hot springsin Hokkaido, making the stone Buddhamagically materialize as my feet and anklesdangled in the hot pool or the wayyour ashes billowed in the pondas you poured from a plastic bag.That wooden box you stayed infor weeks in the trunk of my car—maybe you needed to stretch,so contained in a bag, a box, a trunk.And my breath in the cold—I knowI’m alive when I see the puffsof exhalation as I walk up the final hillon Jericho Street, the sky deepening.No words, just clouds as thoughI am weather, encountering ghostsalong the way, everything appearingand disappearing in delicate migration.

To Lift the Windowand may you in your innocence/sail through this to that ~ Lucille Clifton Prepare for landing. I finally breathe,so frightened I am in the sky,would rather crash as we slideinto a runway than that long, longarrow of fear above the clouds.The mercy of new wordsfor life and death—from this to that. This, the dizzy, spinning Earth. Luang Prabang is no longer a dot on a mapwhen I arrive in the heat on the muddybanks of the Mekong. I kneel and bow,my hands lift with rice and fruit for the monks,and all I see are the hems of orange foldsand hear the papery skin of their feeton the narrow street. I sit in a jeep so close to seven lionseating a hole in the belly of a giraffe,their open mouths bloodied caves,the South African guide comfortablein front, his gun glinting on the dashboard. The quilt of rice paddies I bicycle alongand the Vietnamese bus driver who picksa white flower on the roadsideto slip behind my ear. The smell of red dirt, dried fish,and battered metal, andthe strange architectureof forgiveness. All this. This afternoon I trapped a buzzing flybetween the window and screenand woke in the night,moved down the stairslike a shadow to liftthe window, knowthat what is donecan sometimesbe undone.

Translating Myself I am but a falling leafin this autumn world.So many have becomeimprints in the dirt road,a mosaic of leaf fossilsI walk on and some stillfiltering down with windjust out of reach.Will I ever becometired of all this—ever tire of the acheto feel our skin together,tire of crisp apple sliceswith a squeeze of lemon,this pen, the smellof rain, of rich soilthat holds the dead.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has three poetry collections, The Human Contract (2017), Notes from a Nomad (nominated for the Massachusetts Book Awards 2018), and With a Polaroid Camera (2019). Recently, poems appeared in Rattle, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO. She has been a 30/30 poet for Tupelo Press, nominated for Best of Net in 2017, and the Poetry Prize winner of Art on the Trails 2020.