03-11-2015

Sara Michas-Martin 

 

Elegy

Lake Michigan is growing smaller. Each time I go home more of the beach
shows its ratty, pocked face. I dream the Greeks are responsible, I see them-
climbing the old peeling stairs. Each man carries a piece of lake up past

 

the gold shops, steaming bakeries, rows of fish and unpronounceable cheese.
Back home the neighbors struggle to get their boats in the water. My father
cuts open his toe swimming. When a new sandbar appears, it's flagged

 

and named for its uncommon shape. Working faster and all the time now, the men
are moving Lake Michigan. In a room I don't remember, although
the floor is familiar, I've surrendered to infection. Fever spreads

 

under my skin, concentrates at the tonsils. All the time the men marching-
what looks like thick glass tucked under their arms. The hostel owner
places olives on his tongue one at a time. His wife prays near the cash box.

 

When the doctor comes he kneels by the mattress I've made hot with fear,
a silk curtain floats between his shoulders. He says go home. Your throat is closing.
It's not the lonely descent over Detroit that's stale and grim, it's what happens

 

to the northern woods. Everyone sleeping when I get there. The flag waves
on the sandbar and Lake Michigan is gone. There are no sounds
in the canyon. No sounds pass through the fields of bleached elk bones.


Return

I walk to make certain I was ever there.
To find the car I once discovered

 

buried in the pines as if it were left 
for the mushrooms to affix for crows

 

to pull batting from its seats. Small 
when I see it body rubbed free of paint

 

roof caved like a chocolate egg left in the rain 
and the myths are gone the witch

 

I thought placed it here the silver horses
that drag cars off many roads.

 

Now I imagine before trees filled in
someone drove just this far and parked.

 

Up here the water 
driving against the northern shore

 

just one layer of silence 
spread thin inside another.

 

-from Gray Matter

BIO: Currently stationed in Denver, Sara Michas-Martin writes, teaches and occasionally designs. Her book Gray Matter (Fordham University Press) was chosen by Susan Wheeler for the 2013 Poets Out Loud Prize.  Her poems and essays have appeared in the American Poetry Review, The Believer, Best New Poets, CURA, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, jubilat, Prairie Schooner, Threepenny Review and elsewhere. She is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University and has also taught creative writing and interdisciplinary studies at Goddard College, University of Michigan, and continues to teach courses for Stanford's Online Writer's Studio. Other awards include a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize, a creative nonfiction grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, residency fellowships from the Hall Farm Center and the Vermont Studio Center, and scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Squaw Valley and Napa Valley Community of Writers' Conferences. Sara earned a BFA in visual arts from the University of Michigan and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, where she was twice awarded the Poetry Center’s Poets-in-the-Schools teaching fellowship. She has also studied at Naropa University and Scuola Leonardo Da Vinci in Florence, Italy. Since leaving Ann Arbor, she has lived in eleven cities and backpacked through countries including Greece, Ireland, Laos, Portugal, Thailand and Vietnam.