Issue > Poetry
Sarah V. Schweig

Sarah V. Schweig

Sarah V. Schweig is the author of Take Nothing With You (University of Iowa Press, 2016). Her poems have also appeared in BOMB, Boston Review, The Literary Review, Iowa Review, Tin House, The Volta and elsewhere.

Contingencies (III)

Now, people have obtained a permit from the city
to march through the streets of the city

to protest the policies of the city.
They call it The Day of Anger.

They also call it The Day of Peace.
I sit in a seminar on Narrative & History

without speaking. Nine floors below,
people are still marching.

Sometimes, I walk the streets thinking,
Waste, Waste, Waste.

Sometimes, at the Y, I strip and enter
a room of steam. In this world,

many things reveal themselves
as incomplete. Raised train tracks look out over

concrete cubes in a work lot
stacked like toy blocks as if by God.

Now I am reading Spinoza on a white couch
bought by my husband years ago

with his ex-wife. Spinoza writes
that the mind cannot know the body

except through tenderness or pain.
I once worked at a center for Jewish history.

Genealogy institute, art gallery, archive,
reading room. The experience impressed

no lasting change or effect on my life.
Before the glass entrance I'd sit beside Gloria,

the receptionist who never looked at me.
Jenny, from the Bronx, attended coat check,

had missing teeth and a cackle laugh, and Isaiah
viewed beings of objects gone through security.

They were Black and I was White
and we were careful with each other.

Now, people have stopped marching
and the usual cars traverse Sixth Avenue,

the intersection where a woman was struck
two nights ago. Sirens took her screams away.

What could we have done?
All we did was listen.


Andrew's dead. It's spring. My arms hold
a salad. The window's double fan unit looks in
at us like a set of eyes. Andrew's dead.

We feared many unspoken things.
And now that they've happened
we sit outside. We even remember

laughter. And endure it. There's nothing
to be done, I say. We hold onto
tumbler glasses. We hold onto our

stomachs. I'm through being consumed
by fear. I've stood in countless cathedrals.
I've spent all my money. Now, living things

crawl all over me, the salad, the fan,
minuscule, invisibly leading their lives. I've learned
to love them. Andrew's dead. It's spring.


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