an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century

Winter 2023-2024

Jon Sanborne


We were having dinner out on the porch, I had a friend over, it was summer,
the warm yellow cast of light, the gathered shadows & breezes pregnant with insects.
You had just come back from a trip to the family farm in Maryland,
spoke of seeing the tractor churning up the soil, & the seagulls wheeling through
the sky behind it, searching for spilt worms amidst the rich loam, & how you felt
there surely must be some intelligence greater than us in the universe, guiding it,
to make such perfect patterns of give & take.

Growing up, there weren’t any kids my age in the neighborhood,
so I spent long hours playing my games in the backyard,
action figures overcoming incredible odds, tree trunk twigs & gravel avalanches,
& always you were nearby, kneeling & weeding & planting your unspooling garden patches,
our time shared together in that hushed green kingdom.

Every summer we traveled to Fenwick Island, noisy, lazy hours by the ocean
but also to see your family in the back roads of rural Maryland,
a world strange & fascinating & even frightening to a suburban boy from Long Island,
like when me & my cousin William were in the woods behind Aunt Carol’s house
& saw a wild hog, or at least one gone feral, snuffling down the path ahead of us–
the very beast of Nature right there before my eyes.
A world of dust & blood & growing things
but I knew it was all sacred to you.

& all those Native American youth you wanted to travel out West to save,
all those you wanted to take into your muddied hands to save,
also sacred, also sacred.
The flowered trails, the nimble sproutings,
the mulch we all come from, & give back to,
also sacred, also sacred.
& the light, the light you reached for,
also sacred, also sacred.

& in those last days, brushing your hair, waiting on your breath,
hoping through touch to share some of the comfort you had embroidered our lives with,
you rasped out to me, “I need to go home” & I told you, “Don’t worry, you’ll be home soon.”

Oh Grace, break me not upon your shores,
Hold me fast, see me through.
Oh Grace, grant my mom peace on her journey,
Hold her fast, see her through.

Jon Sanborne grew up in Northport, NY, where the nearby LILCO stacks haunted his childhood imagination. After over 20 years in Brooklyn (and an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College), he currently lives in Manassas, VA, but will always remain LI bound.