Vacation in Lyon



Wobbly, wilting under a virus,
.             I flounder under Je suis,
.                                         but can’t summon the rest.
I clutch at words like pick-up sticks:
.             Mauvais? Mal? Malade?
.                                         At home I’ve left behind a fleet
of vitamins and my mother tongue,
.             but you, my heart, translate.
.                                         The pharmacy pitches all around me.
I catch you say insomnia. Insomnia?
.             No—somnolent, meaning drowsy.
.                                         Somnolent: a poetic word,
a marble in the mouth,
.             like so much of French that I garble
.                                         on the cusp of—
Comment dit-on? I circle the language like a bee
.             looking for entry. Fluent in three,
.                                         you manage to collect the right pills,
and again I think how easily
.             my country reproduced, in various degrees,
.                                         its varieties of ignorance in me.
(Is it mono? I ask Elise
.             to ask the pharmacist.
.                                         Maybe. It’s hard to say, he says
in perfect English). I count out a single dose,
.             and later, touring (I’m flush with resolve
.                                         to find some pleasure here), I count the colors
in your words: ten—dix— shades
.             of melon, champagne, citron,
.                                         bright tonics for my pain.
Still, Love, I crave the nuances of you
.             that I miss, being bound by English.
.                                         Tell me: how much of your finesse,
your Eliseness, escapes me?
.             An impossible question, though I know of the contagion
.                                         in our everyday argot: yes—
oui, mon amor, bisous.
.             Oui, I’d love vin and cheeseburgers. So much of you
.                                         on my tongue, so much beyond my reach.

Fowl At Large



What honing dial set awry

or false hunch or storm of the century


drives the accidental bird

or dreaming poem to surface?


As for me, I had disavowed hope’s

candle-to-egg devotions, spike-heeled the idea


of someday. Speaking of chicks, newbies,

and baby tortoises, if you sentence


a beehive to a bell jar, those hourglass

bees will one day spill like lava


over every lip and crevice. I swear,

I’ve seen those little torpedoes of joy and sting


meet and greet every goldenrod,

every marigold from here to long


after cocktail hour. Like a cacophony

of cats, so many I’s without apology,


screaming their heads off,

I’ve lost all sense of grace,


thank god. My thirst is deeper;

it shrieks for that kite slicing through unseen


geographies, lost, windstorm-dazed,

her compass needle wild as a roulette wheel.

Sarah Giragosian is the author of the poetry collections Queer Fish, a winner of the American Poetry Journal Book Prize (Dream Horse Press, 2017) and The Death Spiral (Black Lawrence Press, 2020). Her craft anthology, Marbles on the Floor: How to Assemble a Book of Poems, co-edited with Virginia Konchan, is now available from The University of Akron Press. She teaches at the University at Albany-SUNY.