Thirteen Ways of Looking at Present Tense

by Sarah Felder



Valentines Day, North Philadelphia

we dance until dawn; wild
limbs lift like dust. I fall
asleep on your floor again.

I feel your bones through
the wood; I lay like leather
and don’t move for hours.


we sit parked by the river.
you collect your thoughts;
pick them off the ground
like change and I’m on currency
again, my body drops into
the seat.


it rains heavily today. I lose
my skin on the walk. I lean
over to pick up a quarter.

my watch hits the pavement 
and breaks open. I forget the time.


you are a mirror
inside of my bedroom
I watch my reflection widen
in your pupils.

my brother’s voice speeds down the hallway.


a cigarette, a child shaking,
and a man clutching a cardboard
sign in the rain. Pigeon’s squat 
like the homeless in gray drag.


the city’s outline is jagged
and coming apart at the edges,
exploding in pin points
and unwinding in to the streets
as pale yellow light


you’re red eyed staring
out at the ocean. It bends and
swallows rain. Two boats
come from opposite sides and pass
like lovers on the sound.


where is a body to begin? I begin
with this thought: The water
took that line long ago.


North and South escape through
your fingertips while you roll 
on a notebook. I follow the whir
of the ceiling fan with my eyes.


it’s coming on November now.
the leather of your car cools.
You slide through the veins of leaves.


I sit by your window in the morning
and watch the grass frost.
William waits at our doorstep; tapping
at the wood with the side of his fist. 


I watch the world shed its skin, stand up,
and stretch; show it’s yellowing teeth to me,
light a cigarette, and smile into my ear.

it tell me the images are awake and opening
their eyes wide. I feel them warp around
me like wind or heat: I feel them before
I see them.


there are the images to keep in your pockets,
and take them out when you need them.

you’ll leave them in last winter’s wool with 
lint and water logged matches. 

I always see them from below first:
they wobble on a tight rope over my head.
I see the bottom of their feet but don’t know
the shapes of their faces.

they do not become clear until you tear open
a paper bag, reach inside to feel around,
and pull something out.

[author ]I grew up on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts. I love poetry, and always have, something about the cadence of it. I attend APU as a Liberal Studies: Literature major. [/author]

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