Carolee Sherwood

Carolee Sherwood Carolee Sherwood is a painter, mixed-media artist and poet. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Pirene’s Fountain, Awakenings Review, Wicked Alice, Scythe, Qarrtsiluni, Literary Mama, Juicebox: a Journal of the Ordinary, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Tipton Poetry Journal and Ballard Street Poetry Journal (which nominated her poem “How to Let Wild Birds Out” for a Pushcart Prize in 2008). She co-edits Ouroboros Review, manages the online poetry project “Big Tent Poetry” and writes reviews for Poets’ Quarterly. She is co-president of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.




The pressure on me is tremendous:
I must concentrate everything I’ve got on the horizon,
the tightrope between night and day.
The universe offers me no forgiveness
for imbalance. If I tip one way, the world sinks
back into darkness (as though I never existed).
Another way, I lose myself to the light
(the sort of obscurity no woman enjoys).
I don’t want to bring morning too quickly
to the man in the window at the top of the stairs.

He will have her soon enough.

As he watches me move across the narrow
rope, the heel of one foot placed
so carefully in front of the toe of the other,
he is mine. I know I can’t keep him.
My flimsy claim only a slender line between
his asleep and his awake. But I aim to be so brilliant

he can’t help but think about me

and seek me out again
and again.



Massage the campfire and limp away
from the smoke which seems to follow you.
Winter approaches. Fear is natural. The fringe
of the forest marks a border. Choose your poison.

Remember: marionettes make excellent
firewood. Stow their round heads in a pail
and save them for last. They never stop smiling.
Enjoy how they stare at you while they burn.
Delight in the dropped chins. Mouths gape
in horror. Maniacal flames laugh at exposing
your evil: this is how you learned to stay warm.

Do not be startled by your own survival.
Regret is no use. Gather puppet strings,
leftover ligaments. Stretch them over a primitive
wooden frame. Each night before bed, strum
your modest harp, like the rest of the dark
angels. Flap your arms in the snow: You will see
the new shape of you. Across the sky a hawk
carries a fat white rabbit in his talons. Quiet
the voice that pities. You need to stay strong.
Sirens in the city below. Trees clack their bare
bones together, afraid.



“Water memory is a scientifically unsupported speculation that water is capable of retaining a memory of particles once dissolved in it.”
(The lead sentence of an article @ about debunking Benveniste’s published work on the memory of water.)

When you say water remembers
me, I believe you. The pond I swam
thousands of times as a child still sends
love letters though I have stopped replying.
Days of written correspondence
are over. My new lover will never reveal
his penmanship to me. We exchange
no words. I rush to his side in silence,
splash to his center, the point at which he runs
deepest. I look down, see myself
through his water, arms and legs
rusty in filtered sunlight, feet nearly
invisible. I know him by his temperature
on my skin, the way he touches every part of me,
how holds me the same way each time.
He remembers how I like to swim
to the bottom of things, rub my hands
along what’s slippery and deep.
I dive and dive. Over and over again,
he wraps himself around every curve.
When you say water remembers,
I believe you. Who could forget
these summers?