June 2006

Sarah Arvio


Sarah Arvio Sarah Arvio’s second book of poems, Sono, was published by Knopf in January 2006. After her first book, Visits from the Seventh (Knopf, 2002), she was awarded the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim fellowship. Arvio works as a translator for the United Nations in New York and Geneva.
Chagrin    Click to hear in real audio

It wasn't the life I would have wanted,
had I known what sort of life I did want,
as if anyone ever knew; though I

did know. Everyone had her shadow life,
her should-have life, the life she should have had,
all those thoughts sharp-sharking into her soul,

all those doodles on the skin of the day.
The shame, that this had been and this had not,
could-should, kowtowing to the life of should,

the shock, let's say, of seeing it had passed,
the chagrin, let's say, the savage chagrin
that this was what it was, et cetera,

who did I think I was, et cetera,
the queen of Sheba in her shantytown,
or Shirley in her temple (such a doll),

or Scheherezade waking to the day—
not Sylvia, not the sylvan huntress.
The whole shebang was a shambles, hello,

shanghaiing my wishes, shout it out, shout,
those stories of what was and never was,
love, voyage, give me succor—sugar—suck—

hushing the heart and shushing the senses.
Hello, day, shake the sheets out, wake the day.
Cheers! (As I said this, I was choking up.)

The challenge of cheerfulness—hello, charm—
charade and charm, chameleon, cameo.
I saw the dawn and fell into a hush.



Obelisk    Click to hear in real audio

I do believe I was never loved. I
was never loved.  An outright blasphemy,
saying so point-blank and out of the blue,

an observation I wanted to make,
maybe too obvious to bother with,
or a bagatelle—too banale to tell—

one little beauty who was never loved,
as blue as a bag lady and as black
as the occupant of an oubliette,

maybe an octopus but not of bliss.
I was blame-emblazoned, my obloquy,
and as bellicose as an obelisk,

as black as a sack, as sick as a sock,
this blah-blah-blah, the soul of lullaby.
Obliteration, that old oration,

blanketing my blue soul, my blue, my soul.
I gave you this oblation to belief,
or maybe obviating disbelief,

and not a ball—no, never a ballet.
I gave you my bold hope, my openness,
as oblong as a long embattled day,

I got a bellyful, I got a beaut—
not to be oblique:  a banana fish.
You know you blasted me a round of blanks.

But after all, what was believable
if not my own blue soul on a black day,
when all the beloved were so blasé.



Sarah Arvio: Poetry
Copyright ©2006 The Cortland Review Issue 32The Cortland Review