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Learning a Trade

We peel each other back for practice, only some of us are silk
and others burlap—I’ll measure your grief down to the last
inch, perform open-heart surgery with a Singer.
I love you to distraction, but your hem

is slightly off.  I can wrap you in a ball of yarn,
the riches of my sensitivity and warmth, mark all the alterations
with a pencil in case you forget—re-knit your being with nimble fingers,

the pattern of your waist and of your shoulders.  I will unravel your loose string
like the Three Stooges do in their two-reels, so sure of their ability,
possessed with such fervor.  And I will leave you there—
a city on a hill for all to see, the burning light house

that guides each ship of fools—
maimed and shivering
but in perfection.


Schubert’s Death and the Maiden

Amid the crumpled sheets
and band posters, the origami cranes
hanging from the ceiling, there is no suave
decay, no Renaissance wet-dream.
No metaphor for the Plague or the importance
of bearing enough healthy,
patriotic citizens.
Just wistful resignation
on both their parts—
even though the key is major at the end—
that he has shown up early
and beeped the horn
of his rusty ‘87 Cutlass, out of nerves
and not machismo, and is apologizing
again: “I love you,” he says,
“enter me, overcome me,
fall asleep in my arms.”
He is Chagall’s green-skinned boy
kissing the eyelids of his beloved under a canopy.


Nicholas Sauer is a teacher of history and English from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He is a former editor of Nuances, the online literary magazine of La Roche College.