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Sarah Carleton


Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo and raises her son in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Houseboat, Off the Coast, Shark Reef, Wild Violet, The Binnacle, Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Ekphrastic, Chattahoochee Review, Kindred, Spillway, Tar River Poetry and Crab Orchard Review.

Ruin in a Field

There are three reasons why one must not go into a ruin: because of suspicion, of falling debris and of demons. — Berakhot

You’ll find me in a field, picking through the ruins.

I blazed a crop tunnel from road’s edge to fallen building,
wheat stalks scratching my waist while the sun
sheared an acute angle and made the grain a golden sea
for an island of lopsided ledges.

Even at dusk, demons cower and blocks
won’t budge if conversation stays the crumble,
so come keep me company among the steady stones,

while the wildflowers shed daylight and close.
Leave behind rooftops, hearsay, stucco.
Brush off the babble about women and meadows

for we guard the grass and maintain the structures
and I’ve widened a loophole to get you here.
Jump through. Abandon suspicion of hisses
and whooshes in the coverless twilight.

Tropical Wanderer

Oh, Moses, so close yet so far and stuck
with a band of cranky hikers for forty years.

I too want to see the periwinkle blue, the streams of gold,
and even more the pumpkin, saffron, papaya forests

blazing in fall—but all the jobs are here in Florida,
land of the monotone palm tree.

My friends post photos on Facebook of leaves turning,
painful glimpses of the fury of color

we’ll miss but our kids will savor
when—by divine forecast—

they finally move to New England.
But our children don’t dream of autumn,

have never seen apples stomped into cider or smelled
the first fireplace smoke of the season.

Let’s leave the next generation on the precipice,
munching manna, gazing at sunrise over far Canaan

while we old folks venture back there, sweaters in hand.
You know, Mo, God’s a tease, a flasher of promises,

the mischief maker who gave us longing
but also suitcases and trains.

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