Salt Memory

Original price was: $12.00.Current price is: $10.00.

In stock

poems by

Jennifer K. Sweeney

Poetry book, 76 pages, cover price $12

($10 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-029-9

Release date: 2006





All spring the typewriter wrote tragi-comedies,
one mocking skull after another
as the keys perforated time

through the halls.
I could not account for my hands
which had turned to starfish.

Sometimes an unrequited love
for the sea
does not have a romantic ending.

The house swelled like a mushroom.
Everything felt deliberate,
the small boats of my shoes,

spoons exaggerated in their drawer.
Rain dropped
pennies from the moon.

Sometimes you agree not to know,
a season arrives
with its odd luggage

and you leave the door open.
At night the salt-swell calls
in baritone and you come.



You cling to tide’s slim canyon,
underbelly of rock,
disguise your pure flesh
in gravel and wait
But open, you are
all mouth, quivering
geode of neon and rust.
Never is anything so vulnerable
as when I touch you
with my tentative fingertip
and you swallow yourself,
enfolded burst by burst,
inward to a still point
of closed desire.



As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself.
–Kate Chopin

For nights I have dreamt
about drowning, wake
with the unshakable ease
of submergence.
I cannot dismiss the lineage of women
who were more salt,
who slipped into the formless amniotic
as though they had escaped
the weight of floating.
Woman as bird, as fish goes the fairy tale-
my six-year-old fury at Anderson’s
Little Mermaid.
Her awful choice at the end:
to be human with her love
married to some other princess
or to fall back into sea,
her body fizzing into a crest of foam.
Not even the dignity of disappearance
but a complete evaporation of self
while my sisters and I wept
in the dark afternoon theater.
As some cold-blooded bonethin leaf.
I want to be a mineral.
Is that what Virginia Woolf thought
as she filled her pockets with stones
and waded into the descent of the surf?
Or Chopin’s Edna Pontillier
who shed her larval garments
to rake the starry water, towing further out,
her drowning a primal consummation?
The stunned faces tumbling into the wreck-
what do these dreams tell me-
deeper in psyche’s ocean
or caught in the moon-tide’s net of dissolve.

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