Fall 2005

Sarah White


Sarah White Sarah White, co-translator of Songs of the Women Troubadours (Garland, 2000), lives in Manhattan. Her work has appeared in Paris Review, Harvard Review, Western Humanities Review, Hanging Loose, and Poetry Daily.
Three Lessons From Montale    Click to hear in real audio


I stand by a well
with a man
or stood
by a well before
and want to again,
turning the crank,  
hearing a winch
creak and echoes
of spills until
the bucket arrives
and I dip
a pleated paper  
cup to give the man
a gulp of perfectly
cold water.

A vague mirror
reveals two souls
who soon return
to the dark
with a creak
of the wheel.


After the rain I go for a walk.
Montale is studying
prints on the sand,
calling them 'ideogrammi.'

Funny, he says. They look
like hen's feet.
There's no chicken yard
around here

Maybe a tired duck came by,
maybe limping.
I couldn't decode this language
even if I were Chinese!

A gust of wind erases the feet
and the poet.  Nature is not as mute
as we thought.  And the less
it says about us the better.


History," says Montale,
is only a decrepit
wrecking ball.  Forget it.  
Watch the snail
travel across a flag-
stone in her trail
of runes and glue.

One night
when there's no moon,
no garden light,
she finds her own way
to disappear.



Sarah White: Poetry
Copyright © 2005 The Cortland Review Issue 30The Cortland Review