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Miriam Sagan


Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon). which just won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement this year. Her blog Miriam’s Well ( has 1500 daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in two national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.

Sitting on The Floor of a Train Station in Asia

on the camping pad you kindly lent me
not for camping
but for just such a collapse
by the luggage cart
in Narita
and seeing a cute toddler
pitch a huge fit
while his mother
also sits on the cold floor
and his tall father
leans down and says
a few soothing words
that don’t work at all

some things
just have to work themselves out
and I might be
one of those things
exiting the train station
in an unknown country
suddenly flooded
with the Manhattan
of my early childhood
its acrid cold smell
that awakens

and there beneath a huge full moon
dark alleyways reveal themselves
in striation
and a wide street of food stalls
and tiny restaurants
seating three people
and bars
no woman would enter
and strips of paper
rustling like pampas grass
advertising everything
you’d ever want
and a grove
of plastic cherry blossoms
permanently pink and white
in the winter’s night

I slept, I woke up,
I slept again
I opened my mouth
to let in the taste
of the enormous city
to taste the air
of wandering
as a newborn
that first slap of air

Sex Trade and a Very Small Earthquake

at 1am it woke me
more the house moving
than the earth itself
loud noise
screens rattling

on the way to the grocery store
my son-in-law and I
saw a long line of silent men
looking like a queue for bread
standing outside a tiny door
advertising women
and the price

this is just
a few feet from
the fish stall,
more than sixty years and half a world
from my cautious worried
life as a woman
where one wrong turn
leads to dangerous

now old
I’m sleeping
beneath my drying clothes
pink sweater
which in its way
is another body
fluttering at the window shade
and swaying
like a gull
that looks down
on islands
and sees the ocean floor

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