The Poetry of Sara Warner
Big Bend Poets chapter, Tallahassee FL
Florida State Poets Association
The former owner never said it in so many words.
He mentioned an unreliable weatherman
a failed hay operation,
said his wife grew strange
watching the weather channel hours on end.
I realize now she was looking for answers—
how a band of showers sweeping across the countryside,
a yellow-splotched blue field on the radar screen,
could simply evaporate each time it approached this farm.
It wasn’t until after we bought her fields that I noticed
our radios were not in tune with our new home.
We seemed located at the outer reaches of every station,
and I found that, driving towards the farm,
the radio static would increase until
there was only an occasional word,
wafting through the white noise
like a mirage riding a desert day.
Slowly, I came to realize that my cell phone was useless.
High-speed connections, dish networks, cable modems—
eventually I outgrew my frustration at their failure
and began to marvel at what replaced them.
In this way I have come to understand
that there are other kinds of boundaries
than the ones we mean to erect.
Invisible influences, not of our making,
might form much of the air we breathe.
And we try in our unsuspecting way
to negotiate these confusions, like honey bees
struggling to sort the tangled signals
of cellular networks, satellite bands, digital wireless.
Perhaps this is what it means to come home:
To find that what you must learn to live here
is what you must learn to live.
My cell phone service has lapsed.
I have turned off my computer, my radio, my tv.
I have gone outside to look at the sky.
I run into him now and then, the former owner.
He is always friendly, but I can see I make him nervous.
I think he is always wondering if, like his wife,
I am turning strange. And I, in reply,
search his face for clues.
Most of the photos I took this year were of departing things.
I used to think it was because a robber
broke into my house and departed with my 35 mm camera
which took perfect action shots.
I replaced it with a digital camera
that hesitates for an instant
when I push the shutter button
giving my subjects time to escape
into the little slip between
the picture I take and the one I get.
What I get are pictures of the moment after
those moments I wanted to keep:
the smoke from birthday candles,
a scarf trailing through the air
over the rear fender of a blue bike,
the hind foot of my colt
saluting the sky and the empty field behind him.
I frame these pictures just the same
and place them here and there on my walls.
Frequently, visitors will break off their conversations,
ask the obvious question,
and I end up talking about these vacancies much more
than of things that are actually in their pictures.
I’ve stopped apologizing and have begun to wonder.
It’s as if these pictures remind me
that everything in the universe is flying apart,
and lately I’ve begun to look for other things
departing these empty fields:
the strength of my good arm,
the chance to make things right,
the restlessness I always thought was at the core of my being.
Strangely, what I’ve glimpsed is not all loss.
I see how there might be nothing in my photographs
and I step out onto the porch with great happiness
at my prospects.
From Bainbridge to Chattahoochee a high ridge runs
for miles along the Apalachicola,
the ground falling away from the two-lane blacktop,
down and down again to the river.
Winding my way through the electric pastel of March dusk,
I remember how much I love to drive
when a good song’s playing on the radio.
For a moment I think it’s my life I love
and not just riding high
through this lonesome place
with its crossroad whistle stop
where children jump rope
under the fluorescent lights
of a carport, and where further on,
a deer stands at the edge of the woods
for a split second before wheeling away
through dense rows of slash pines,
before the rollercoaster dips
coming down and down again
off the ridge
"a deer stands at the edge of the woods"
SARA received her Ph.D. in History, Theory, and Culture from Emory University. She works as a research historian for the Florida
Department of Environmental Protection, teaches literature courses at Florida State University, and trains with her horses
in classical dressage. She has published both stories and poems and her book, Down to the Waterline, is considered
the definitive study of navigable water body boundaries in Florida. She lives at Black Bay Farm with her husband, P.V. LeForge
(also a poet), where they stand their Oldenburg stallion, Fabayoso, at stud. In whatever spare time she can find, she is working
on completing a novel and a book of poems entitled Babe Ruth’s Piano.