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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 11, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem sitting on a porch in West Virginia a few years ago. The sky was about to storm and the previous night a raccoon had gotten stuck under the electric fence, and I had helped it escape. I was longing to know the heart of my teacher, of God, of the ineffable, and thought of the sky as an amulet, a voodoo (gris-gris) spell that I might use to reach them.”
—Sarah Messer

Spell to Locate the Unreachable

As no assistance could be expected
of the ocean, I turned to the trumpeting
tunnel of sky and rummaged
the tops of plum birch turning
their leaves like coins, then
to the tumbler sweating
on the porch rail. The sky,
the color of whale oil. The wind,
a box of uncolored letters. And so
I was gris-gris with my lichen hair
and moonstone wound
around my neck, a raccoon
stuck under an electric
fence, or a photo showing
only one wick at a séance.
How to unpin this particular
corner of sky? I sing
an antler song to find
you, but there’s no trace
of the sky in the sky. I’ll have to
collapse the air to find you.

Copyright © 2016 by Sarah Messer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Sarah Messer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Sarah Messer

Sarah Messer

Sarah Messer is the author of Dress Made of Mice (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). She works at White Lotus Farms and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

by this poet

poem
Line to be sewn into a skirt hem
held in my mouth ever since the  unraveling 

Line beneath a bridge
for years without hope I stretched my arms into the river searching for you

Line to be sent to the cornfield
history is a hallway of leaves.

Line written for electric wires
your voice
poem

Dimensionless One, can you hear me? 
Me with the moon ears, caught 
in ice branches?
	
Beneath the sky’s long house,
beneath the old snake tree,
I pray to see even a fragment
of you—
 			whiskers ticking
 
a deserted street,
a staircase leading 
to
poem

Moonlight slept quiet beneath the grandstand,

like flower petals, like highway snowstorms, like each thought
not of November or battlefields. My moping climbed

the Pegasus inside my chest which sped me to you
in this last century of petrol, with my socialism wanting.

I