Sara Clancy

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In Which Slaughterhouse Five Anticipates My Mother

She was not in Dresden during the fire
and though she did not witness the ruin
until years later, she remembers the dog
named Chief her brother brought back
in 1942, as if it is on her back porch
right now, scratching
to come in.

She is a traveler in memory, waving
from the dock of the uncertain now
and arriving, seconds later to welcoming
crowds of her history, who take her bags,
her Brownie camera and help her
into the waiting livery of her past.

I am her tour guide at 65, her rebel daughter
at 16. I am 6 in a sun-suit pointing out landmarks
or waiting with her in Reading Terminal for the train
that will take us from the old fish-scale twin
on Upsal Avenue to the lobster boats
out her bay window

the one she sat beside for 30 years,
in the modest, but lovely home where she lives
now, like Billy Pilgrim, released
from her own chronology
and unstuck in time.

Hymn Sung to the Wrong Afterlife

I have looked up through the beams of the old coal
chute in that house on Noble Road and right into
the parody of our past life. As if the hum of country
living could revert to its promise to stop, goddammit,
and listen to the dog who belongs here
debate the moon that does not.

I went so far as to restore the salt in all our crystal
shakers to its ancestral heap beneath the brass bell
on the porch. It makes no sense at all to live this way.
To pass by all the broken lights and then search
the circuitry for clues. We could ditch this whole century
tonight, you and I, if not for the ghost

who boasts she is 130 years young before she laughs
and pulls us both back. Who leaves her leather bound volumes
splayed spine up in a parlor upholstered with long playing
records and painted sky blue pink. Who wonders, as we all do,
exactly when this lunatic sunrise will finally break free
from its coal black basement portal and reveal itself.


Sara Clancy a Philadelphia transplant to the Desert Southwest.  Her chapbook Ghost Logic won the 2017 Turtle Island Quarterly Editors Choice Award and she is an Associate Editor for Poetry at Good Works Review. Among other places, her poems have appeared in Off the CoastThe Linnet's WingsCrab Creek ReviewThe Madison Review, and Verse Wisconsin. She lives in Arizona with her husband and daughter, their two dogs a cross-eyed cat and a 23 year old goldfish named Darryl.