3 poems by Sarah Kortemeier – The Feminist Wire

3 poems by Sarah Kortemeier

The Mountain


The mountain is really a series of itself.

Deeper pockets of sky color float in its canyons.

In certain seasons, it’s difficult to tell rock face from snowfall.

The ridge line looks much sharper than it must, in actuality, be.

When you climb, the summit is sometimes visible.

You ran well, says the man who has lived here all his life.

From your home, the mountain cannot escape its pairing

with the roof of your neighbor’s home.

From your home, the mesquite tree you mean to prune

looks taller than the mountain.

From your home, the mountain is visible and therefore

you visit it rarely.

There are black bears up there and cooler air.

There are campgrounds. There was a fire. The trees are still black.

There is a smell of evergreen and a series of pit toilets.

There is a viewing point named for seven waterfalls, and one afternoon you counted them all.

The mountain bathes itself in light at every sunset

whether or not you are watching:

violent rose and deep blue that flare like love

and wash away in the coldness of space

within the span of minutes. But the mountain

is not like love. It stands over your home,

and sometimes you take a weekend day and climb,

but it’s not like love at all.



Baby Fever


Death roams the neighborhood of my dreams

like a bored teenage girl. She knocks at my door:

loose-chested, dreadlocks, chewing gum.

Honey, try a bra, I tell her.

See, this is your problem, she says. You only see

one layer underneath. I sort of want to touch

her collarbone, but don’t. She follows my eyes.

I don’t dress this way for you, she says. I know,

I say, and Why? I ask, and I tighten my grip on the screen door.

She rolls her eyes and tugs at the handle,

and I think about how they will find me:

so dressed, so covered in things I could have made

myself but didn’t.



Stone with Nineteen Corners


There is a stone with nineteen corners

in one of Machu Picchu’s walls.


The builders fit the wall

around the nineteen corners, thinking


in three dimensions at once.

They made a thing that has too many turns


to fit inside a photograph.

The scholars think they did it to show off.


Other tourists claim the stone has 30 corners,

or 32 corners, or 12, or 9. We didn’t


count them ourselves;

our guides managed us. The long-dead builders


manage us. The stone exists;

it hides parts of itself from every


line of sight; still, we rest against the wall

and look down at the valley, we go ahead


and take the photos, we submit to frames,

we make them ourselves, we carry


our children and look back at the honeymoon

photos, thinking, There was so much light


up there, thinking, what was that guy’s

name?, thinking, I’d like to see it again.



SarahKortemeier-_Baby_Fever____Stone_with_Nineteen_Corners____The_-sarah_kortemeier_outdoor_color_by_jennifer_mcstottsSarah Kortemeier is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Arizona. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Fairy Tale Review, Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing, Sentence, Folio, Sliver of Stone, and Spiral Orb; she was also a finalist in the 2011 Gulf Coast Poetry Contest and the second annual Tennessee Williams Festival Poetry Contest. She currently serves on the library staff at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Photo by Jennifer McStotts.