Poem of the Week | June 19, 2017

This week, we are proud to present a new poem by Sarah Ehrich. Ehrich is a poet and writing instructor living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She earned her MFA at Emerson College where she received an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her work has been published in Ploughshares and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. She currently teaches writing at Boston College and is Assistant to the Director at the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Harvard Square. For more information, visit sarahehrich.com.

Author’s note:

In this poem, I imagine a conversation with a being at once inside me and yet not me, a being with its own concerns and existence separate from my own. While I have a specific voice in mind, I see the poem’s flexibility in addressing the simultaneity of intimacy and distance, of consonance and dissonance. Of how extremely close beings—such as separate entities residing in one body—handle significant disagreement, opposing needs. Hopefully, through recognition, they eventually can correspond.


I Didn’t Need My World

after Marie Howe


Almost every night, when I’m deeply asleep and its small voice
becomes audible, it asks me: what are you worried about?


And I almost always begin: teaching tomorrow, my student
who looked tired, the condition of the roads, and what
to make for dinner. And I think, good, that was concise.


And almost every night, it says, Sarah, tell me the story
of what you did and I say: I graded papers, some were good.
I wrote a few lines, some were good. When I came home,
I ate soup with my new sweetheart. And almost every night,


it responds: tell me the whole thing.


And I say, OK, I’m in the dark and so are you.
And it says, I can hear, tell me the whole thing.


I would, I say, but it doesn’t matter because I didn’t want to have you.


And it says, OK, tell me the story.


Remember that poem where Anna Akhmatova runs
down the stairs without touching the banister?
That’s what it was like.


Tell me the whole thing.


OK. We were in the park and I traced the skeleton
of a house in the dirt, three chairs, and a table inside the square.
A stray twig was a hook by the door, an orange leaf,
your little hat. It was simple. I didn’t need my world
to be smaller.


And I listen for its voice from somewhere inside, like an ocean
ringing inside a shell.


And I say, that’s the story and I’m not lonely. OK?