What I’d Wanted of Your Body



wasn’t a sculpture come to life.

wolf in soapstone. whim of wild.

kettle where the ghost unwilts.


I wouldn’t build you, barrack;

          on the sill sits shrapnel green.

I wouldn’t carve you, tremor;

          here, my turnips rear

          their spindly tongues.


                                                                                what was left of the trumpet

                                                                once it stuttered the march?

                                                                                oh, but only its mouth.


                                                                      what went missing

                                                                      from the wood, once an oak?

                                                                                      all but a sprig

                                                                                      hollowed out

                                                                                      so it might ring


                                                                      you are not the woman whittling ghosts

                                                                      from a borrowed garden’s-worth of lilac.

                                                                                            & I am no river.


                                                                      for how I starve


                                        to love you?

                                it is more frivolous.


              like skipping

                            rocks, like

                    on a lap, rocking,

        how the river laps

                    against stone

                          until out

                        pours its bud


but, no,

I wouldn’t call your eyes

          diamond saws.


when what I’d wanted

                    of your body

was sweet & pitiful & closer,

they were pursed; they were keen.


when what you’d held in your bell jar,

was a swam, remember? wasn’t it


                                        a swarm not of bees,

                                but of bone?


                          & wasn’t the dragnet full

                                        —not of stars,

                                                but—of flecks?


                                                          let it be told:

                                                      I am no tender axe


                                                                    for to fell you,

                                                             for to whet your asking

                                                                    with a mouthful.



what I’d wanted of your body

was no moonshine

& no fragrance

—not of the wax

or of its flower—


not the fever,

but its outbreak.


what I’d wanted

                    of your body

          was no body,

but what comes after.


                    not ravishing or awash.

          your palms not stained with plum.

your skin not sopping nectar.


                              what I want is not in question.


before your torrent

                    of fickle bee stings,


                    I am but a secondhand bouquet.


                    I am at the mercy

                    of your swarm, your dead-end

                    green, your petrified terrarium.

Sara McGuirk currently acts the Iowa Youth Writing Project Fellow and teaches at The University of Iowa Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a BA in English and Film Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Sara is currently finishing her first collection of poetry as well as a feature-length screenplay.