Shenandoah Sowash


Then it was easy to live without love, to roll
through other people’s lives, always a visitor.
I didn’t want a life of doilies, what they called home.
Now I admire Dan in Boston & Chaz in Berkeley
& all the others across the map; they keep their keys
in the same place. Chaz says it’s good to stop sprinting
from one gray city to the next, that there are ways to be loud
without ruin. Maybe someone wants to hold your hand,
he says. Or carry your bags.


I like the dirt of martyrs. Feeding
the cat, spilling coffee on white robes,
getting lost on the way
to somewhere holy.

Once I thought I was a saint.
A drunk told me. I believed him
for two weeks. But my wings
(I’d ordered pink ones) never came,
or if they did the package was tricky
to open, and I left the box
in the drunk’s house. He had a basement
with room for another box.

Look at me, building fires, poking fun.
I know the waltz of an unwinged angel,
a death by fire, the worship of heathens.

But I like the saints, especially the one
who coos come over and sit on my porch swing,
who leans too close and says,
let’s start a fire.

Shenandoah SowashShenandoah Sowash‘s work has appeared in The Collagist, Smartish Pace, PANK, RHINO, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. The recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Lannan Foundation, she was a finalist for the Smartish Pace Beullah Rose Poetry Prize and the Devil’s Lake Driftless Poetry Prize. She attended the Bread Loaf Writers Conference through a work-study scholarship (“waitership”) and is currently working on her first book.

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