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Poetry

Sarah Bigham

sheilawhite1Sarah Bigham reads, teaches, and writes in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. Her work has appeared in Fourth & Sycamore, Halo, Melancholy Hyperbole, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Snapdragon: Journal of Arts and Healing, skirt!, Whirlwind Magazine, and elsewhere.

Of thermoses and briefcases

My wife heads to work on time and on a Segway, wearing a backpack and a
helmet. I drive to my job across town, rarely on
time, with hopes of  green lights and miraculous parking spots in
the gated staff lot. I heft a work bag — a black faux-leather,
serviceable, tote-like carryall filled with the papers I stay up late
each night to grade plus class notes and books — along with an
insulated lunch carrier covered in purple florals.

I avoid the highway and travel city streets, slightly changing the
route each day to focus on seasonal flora and fauna as I drive.

Past the public works employee, attired in bright orange, testing
and flushing fire hydrants, leaning casually on a city-issued work
truck, watching water erupt from the chipped yellow hydrant and
tumble down the street as the fiery embers of a cigarette blaze with
each inhale.

Past the restaurant server walking home after an overnight shift at
a 24-hour diner, polo shirt emblazoned with the company logo,
khakis covered in the detritus inherent in feeding those hungry at 3
AM.

Past the cyclist in a navy suit, pant leg efficiently banded to
prevent ensnarement in chains, briefcase strapped firmly behind
the seat, red paisley tie  swept back by the wind like a happy dog’s
tongue.

Past roofers piling into a white van with their bagged lunches,
knowing that many hours later the same van will drop them off,
metal doors banging, blue ladders jangling.

Past the stylist-in-training, swathed in design-fashionable black,
teetering along cracked pavement in fat wedge heels and fishnet
tights providing an outline of fresh ink, carrying a tiny umbrella
and an enormous purse.

Past the spiky-haired intern in sky blue scrubs, race-walking a
local park in comfort-soled clogs after birthing a baby at the
hospital several blocks north.

I pull up to the last light, idling next to a truck filled with strapped-
in, team-sized coolers of liquid, safety cones, and metallic
equipment I cannot name. The driver’s bandana holds back a mane
of curls, sunglasses perched above like a crown.

Springsteen wafts from both vehicles as the truck heads west to
jobsite #2 and I turn onto campus.

Relearning

From the first cry, came the first skill–
knowing how to breathe

I learned how to sit and balance my large baby
head as I swayed

I learned how to walk and to run
and to hide

My mind raced, no matter the stance, ideas
overflowing, outpacing my stride

I rejected the stillness, time and again, “Not for
me,” I thought of the sitters who sat

Until my body betrayed me, or had it?
No choice now, but to stop and to slow

Lying down, but just,
breathing in, breathing out

Harder to learn the second time around, how to
breathe and just be

Funny how the first skill is also the last
and all the ones in between

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