Wednesday 27 October 2021


by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

Maybe it started with the composition book
in kindergarten, those thick spaces
and straight lines I filled and stayed on,
all the words I first learned to spell,
rhyming its own spell, releasing
a geyser: call, tall, small…
my hand another person,
someone strange and strong,
different from the little girl inside my skin,
then to the calligraphy set
under the Christmas tree,
that pen infusing a new language in me
as I held the nib at a slant
to create a new dimension.
Onto carving in slate
and the letterpress
and drawers of fonts.
What stays on a page
or a stone is like saving a moth,
the flutter inside my palms
until I release it to live in the night.
I touch carved letters, press the scar
to feel the healing.
My mother always works her way
onto the page tying or untying an apron
(am I trying or untrying to be her daughter?).
No, I have not lettered her gravestone
though she lines the basin
of our pond. I dive into the past,
swim in her ashes and bits of bone
and plant words in furrowed rows,
surprised by what grows.

* * * * *

"Obsession" was first published in Literary North.

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, Lily Poetry Review, and RHINO. She has been nominated for Best of Net, was the Poetry Prize Winner of Art on the Trails 2020, and a 2021 Finalist in the Iron Horse Literary Review’s National Poetry Month contest. She lives in the hills of Vermont.

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