Five Poems: By Miriam Sagan


1. Advent

let’s ask ourselves
what is possible—
orange berries
clinging to the thorns

the moon wanes
but like love
if only a sliver remains

cattle in the dark field
angels on the doorstep
each house has wings
grown from our intentions

and darkness
with its mother’s caress
touches again, again,
the soft cheek of light.

2. Tent Rocks

Night has folded its wings
Packed up its tents
Towards morning.
We walk infolded in the slot
feminine space.

Your ten year old self says:
This is my bedroom, this my parlor
In the vast exposed roots of the ponderosa,
soft eddy of sand
striations of what fell
from the sky

Earth came from above
Volcanic spew
Pumice and ash–pyroclastic fragments

(The Greek for both “fire” and “broken”).

Hoodoos of stone like so many gremlins,
Shapes in the mind.
What the trail marker says:
Stop–look here

As if there were no need to look
to the right
to the left
red flower
against geologic time
a snatch of conversation.

In rock a potter’s wheel
Rising the height of a house
Like a Claes Oldenberg clothespin
Or some other
Common household object
Enlarged to heroic scale
Colossus, a triumphal arch
A conquering general
On a gigantic horse

What you see

Than us
The meteor blazing
As it approaches earth
Lands the size
Of a grain of sand
In your burnt hand.
Time has folded the tents of day
Until the long haired
Evening star
Rises in the smoking mirror
And in the underwater world
Of the lake below
Eat an apple
Bury its core
Try to see
Before language
Separated me
From this world
Before I knew
The name of the yellow gossamer
Butterfly floating through this canyon’s
Eden of rock.


how many times have I walked across a field in America
leaving a green place behind
rows of cabbages and tiger lilies
purslane you might eat, but only very new
blue chicory
good-bye to you I loved and you I didn’t
back to the city
and a million pairs of shoes
and a million pairs of strangers’ eyes
in this moment I might be twelve or sixty
I promise myself I’ll return
I’ll make it right
next time, I’ll love all of you
blue chicory

4.Extended Landfall

the coast
appears blurry in the rain
like a watercolor
left to run
but this is
land, after a long
voyage by water

so death appears
in old age
the man of ninety
might look
at cherry blossoms
from a gnarled tree
or his own knees
and feel—what
the approach
towards something
that may be familiar
but grows

I spent my whole life
looking at another country
in childhood
I imagined pirate ships
and casks of jewels
even now
the hypnagogic aurora borealis
dances before
my closed eyes
on the shores of sleep

it was beauty
I sought
a modest island
with scrub oak
in the sandy soil
dropping mussels on a rock
a red sail
on a catamaran
and I
looking back


the pigeons of Shiraz
have one black wing
one white
are marked
as if by the calligrapher’s hand
must wheel towards G-d

the pigeons of Manhattan
swell with iridescent
smell of soot
build nests of detritus
must wheel towards G-d

I held a metaphor
like a smooth stone
close to my heart

when I awake
I could see the inside of the rose.

About the author:

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 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 in this year (2017) . Her blog Miriam’s Well ( has a thousand 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.