“Some Privileges”, “Burial Feathers” and “Slovak Smelling Salts”

Some Privileges

Did they teach you about this, growing up?

In classrooms of thirty and forty children

Sneakers squeaking on linoleum floors

Braces gleaming under fluorescent lamplights

Did you learn the scales of C Major and G?

Which circles are full and halved and

Descending in strategic marches from the

Treble clef?

Did they show you how to draw a clef note?

Did they teach you about how long to hold

The full circles

And the ones with little flags and staffs

Grandly processing




and down

Dependable black lines

Learning how it feels to perform a breath

As written

How to cradle an instrument with strings

So that your heartbeat echoes the vibrations

Before the air does

I hold you tightly as you cry into my shoulders

Because you might fail the ninth grade

And you’re sad about that because your Mother will yell

You know what it feels like to disappoint someone

I wish I could give you what it feels like

To play a chord so perfectly and to hear it

And to understand that some things are meant to be

To hear that they are

But I hold you instead


And whispering:

decrescendo, dolce

We gradually get softer, sweetly


Come prima, dolente

As before, mournful

Putting my arm around your waist, taking your backpack from you to descend the subway

platform, walking:

In relievo, sotto voce; subito triofale

A direction to make the melody stand out, voices in undertone; suddenly triumphant.

The train sucks all of the air out of the tunnel

And blows our hair back in arrival

You slump against me when we sit down

And I sing to you, softly

So you know that everything is

Going to be alright

And so you can feel it.

Burial Feathers

You mailed me dead sunflowers for my birthday

A puff of dried dust and crumbled curled

Petals spewed when

I ripped the paper of the envelope

I put the whole mess

next to your burial feather

on my mantel

One day, after you got off of the night shift

You smashed the television in the living room

With your favorite guitar

A vase of dried roses on the TV stand


Mixed with

Shards of deep black and blue glass

Snapped strings and splintered wood

It all was so beautiful, to me then

I took a photo of it

I thought it was art.

The next week when you shot yourself

I thought that was tragedy and I

Cried and cried and screamed

And the police took photos of your body

And days later

I curled up on the exposed floor where

The destroyed television

and roses had lain

Trying to remember what beauty felt like

Trying to forget the smell of death

And the last gurgling breaths you took.

At the funeral

We shook hands and kissed

Imagining this time was

A multiverse peeling into a million frames

Politicians singing gospel on Capitol steps

Mahalia, they’ll say, Mahalia we love you

California screeches East

Calling her sister coast in a Whitmanic-Yawp

Collapsible highways of the West

Fold upon themselves like paper maps

Sealed packaged and dropped

Soaring high above the planet earth

on aero-planes

Burning fuel made of our bodies

Gleaming with the steel of our stories

Hammered into the hull

And pressing ourselves

Together in embrace

Shrouded in black

Felt like cradling

Felt like staying

In safe spaces

Smaller than the inside of the coffin

Still oak

Still sturdy

Still shining

Black on black on black

And back to the shaking act

comforting each other

though church makes no promises

The organ is an ancient singer

Lifting notes

Inversions of phrases

Rising high

Flying keys

Bleed bleed

D’s and G’s and C’s

Pulling tears from our eyes

And we cry

and we cry

and we cry

For if you knew how we missed you

You would not stay away another day

Slovak Smelling Salts

Felipe gave me smelling salts in Slovenia

Evening hanging over morning

As the sheets clung to the bed frame

We had kicked them there

And I inhaled, through my nose

Lacking the words for senses of

Scents so kissing you on the shoulder

Instead and celebrating

The instinct of the Alps

Whipping around coursing warm

Bodies full of blood and

Exchanging some warmth with you

Shoeless in the frozen foothills

Padding to another hotel room

To rest my head on another’s chest

And lay naked, listening to The Heart of Saturday Night

You packed away your sorrows

And returned to Oxford

I to New York and

Felipe disappeared because

I’ll never be able to describe

What he smelled like.

About the Author

Sara Marron

Sara is a writer and law student living in Washington DC. Her poetry has been published in several magazines and journals and has a chapbook forthcoming from Broadstone Media in the summer of 2018. You can read her more of her work at her website.

Read more work by Sara Marron.