Sarah Jarboe

Every Kiss a War Cover Kissing Booth

Funeral Kitchen

By Sarah Jarboe

We’re joining in the funeral kitchen.
The tea you made is cold
and will be poured away.
What else can we bury, you ask
and before I can respond
you take my hand
to the compost pile.
Then bit by bit you
break apart my body.
This is for your entrapment, you say
then detach my shoulder
down to the wrist.
This is for our child,
you take my right breast.
For each lie:
you preciously snap off
each toe and toss them
onto the funeral heap.
The refuse stinks.
It’s not fair.
I cannot fight one-handed.


How to Leave

Sometimes I do it at night
on wings of a canary
from the mouth of a cat.

On a Sunday after church,
in my husband’s arms
after he gives me a bath.

In the belt of a boat builder.
This is how he sands.
This is how the sea reflects off wood.

Settled over by dust
what is left of her fingerprints
across the dressing table.

Like the cool side of my pillow,
I turn over again.
I turn over again.


Scene from a bank of XiHu (West Lake)

Beyond the golden ox statue begging upward from the lake,
an old man crossed a low-lying causeway
carrying two empty drawers, one in each hand.

There I sat and crushed a spider spun from the heel of my sandal.
There you told me that I was perfect as an angel, but.

I began to crease the pages of your letter into small hatlike boats
until you dispersed with a gust that swirled my ships offshore,
and the lake churned like a factory generating white paper.

Sarah Jarboe lives in Northern Kentucky with her hubby Brian and two boys, Henry and Otis. She teaches English at the University of Cincinnati. She received her M.A. in English/Creative Writing from the University of Louisville, and was an ESL instructor in Hangzhou, China.