by Ann St. Clair
nominated for a Pushcart Prize
The year I plotted to escape, I heard the bay
pour backwards with its great speed,
and thought of how I’d huddled with the children
here on this beach when the stranger beat
his dog so cruelly, she broke loose
howling, knotted. Racing from left to right to sea,
she scarred the flats with torn diagonals.
The season darkened; I would run her image past,
and she would flee out; she would flee out, jagged.
No matter how we ran or called, or who.
But I always looked away before
she met the tide that washed her up in Brewster
out of reach of everyone.
Persian New Year at the Waldorf
by Ann St. Clair
Published in “Cimarron Review”
Part of a volume of poems called From the Darkroom
The child’s games never die.
Even now, I carry them with me under the elegant gown, cover them
where they show like feet I’ve strapped in delicately buckled shoes.
The Reza Shah’s party. His opposition greets Naurus at the Pierre.
Grey men in darkest glasses. Shoulder holsters. Cotton gloves for fingerprints. They say
the liquor’s only for Americans.
My thoughts dance backwards into girlhood and rococo subway rides.
Watch, my father whispered, Watch that man across the aisle.
He’ll leave his briefcase on the floor beside his seat.
Someone else will get on, take it, get off, melt into the crowd at 42nd Street.
Strange accents lurk in my throat; I try to catch Dad’s eye, the quick eye of the Hibbing kid
who played the role of Student Prince to cheers,
the Hibbing kid who took the bus through forty miles of snowdrifts to get out, out to
that great world where one day he would convince the Shah to ban the opium poppy:
We’ll sell your people drying ovens to kill mold on their pistachios.
Without the mold, you’ll sell them in the States.
(And don’t you need more F-15’s?)
Like child’s play.
On the square with SAVAK’s whitewashed palace, its rules in codes he’s mastered,
I can’t know.
He is the Honorable______. And I must sort his old games by myself, searching this room,
its dance floor for a simple villain, the assassin, the super-spy we hunted
on that subway years ago.