Poetry

Thank you for your interest in my poems!
Below are samples and links to some of my poems on the web.

To James Merrill from His Maid

I was “the girl who cleans,” who threw out
those magazines, dusted, mopped, and scraped the bones
from your plates. You asked what I thought about
you and Mr. Jackson all those years, the tones
you took with each other, with me. You, designate
of Dante, colleague of Bishop and Pope,
could never manage to keep my name straight—
so much for genius and global scope!
But though politesse was yours to bestow
and my work a daily knuckling-under,
I glided lightly round your reverie
and left in your rooms a fresh undertow
that undermined, and floated, your wonder:
bright carpets, mirrors, clear views on the sea.

Copyright Sarah M. Brownsberger
First published in Poetry East, No. 84/85, Spring 2015

Church Site

The bus will loop back for you in an hour
Though minutes might suffice for this
Naked ruin, neglected even
By the viking earl who built it;
He tarried at foreign courts too long
To tend this whisper of white stone
Scudding the slope a dory-length from shore.
No carving let alone color remains,
Buttresses and lepers’ slits scoured
By sexton wind, sexton salt. No marker
For the lord and cleric jumbled
Underfoot. Every echo within
Is swallowed in surf: Can it be
A great motor can rumble by
And you hear nothing? The hour and your bus
Are long gone. No life, no signal. The dust
Is milky and cakes on your shoes;
From the first hill you look dizzily down
Through flying lime rungs to a grass floor.

Copyright Sarah M. Brownsberger
First published in Salamander, Vol. 18, No. 2, Summer 2014

In Birch, an art book by artist Joan Backes (see joanbackes.com), my poem “The Scented Birch Near the Fountain Where You Walk” appears with four drawings by Joan, with a cover constructed of birch bark. One of the 2012 edition of seven copies resides in the John Hay Library Special Collections at Brown University.

The Scented Birch Near the Fountain Where You Walk

The sweet wood, the silk wood, the smooth-barked birch
That crouched all winter, arms slung in the soil,
Braced for darkness, mandibles, sawing ice,

Now rises naked, streaked and radiant,
Shaking off catkins on a wide skirt of moss,
To wave lemonleaf from blown fingertips,

To slip ribbons here and there around you as you walk
Frayed, splayed bouquet of daylit skin, a spray
Of singing on a wand of bubbling sap.

BIRCH, a book-work by Joan Backes with a birch-bark cover, drawings, and a poem by Sarah Brownsberger
BIRCH, by Joan Backes.

Read more Sarah M. Brownsberger poems on the web:

https://aqreview.org/galaxias-kyklos/

https://bulletin.hds.harvard.edu/articles/autumn2007/two-poems-brownsberger

http://www.versedaily.org/oystershard.shtml

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/poem-quick