Sarah J. Sloat
Gestures in a Landscape
In WWI, a British fighter pilot lasted an average of 11 days.
Apollinaire died of influenza in 1918, weakened by a lingering war wound.
You can kill yourself with kindness, too.
Swinging our arms as we walk is a vestige of having once gone about on all fours.
Even landscapes make a gesture toward us.
The husband of artist Käthe Kollwitz forbade their son to join the army because of his age, but Kollwitz took the boy’s side. Peter marched off to WWI and lay dead within 10 days.
I empty my chest of the faraway.
The afterlife I believe in is called literature and history. Forgetting is forgiveness enough.
If I could be something else it would be a glass of sparkling water.
“Better than the aviators Christ takes to the sky / He holds the world record for how high he flies”—Zone, Apollinaire
It’s natural to find religion in a firestorm.
Saturated sky blue has done more to comfort us than all the sedatives in the world.
At the water trough,
carissima, the neediness
of pigeons flies into my veins.
The birds gag the path,
the walkway’s turreted verge,
awaiting a crust
that’s not to be found.
They endure the worst of us.
They outlast an impossible rain.
I spy them from the road
I’ve been traveling
with a small, expensive pain.
Sarah J. Sloat lives in Frankfurt, Germany, a stone’s throw from Schopenhauer’s grave. Her poems and prose have appeared in The Offing, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Beloit Poetry Journal, among other journals. Sarah’s chapbook of poems on typefaces and texts, Inksuite, is available from Dancing Girl Press, which also published Heiress to a Small Ruin in 2016.