Sara Backer

The Animals in My Name
by Sara Backer

The bear, my big self, lumbers
into hibernation, relishing the fit
of a grass-padded den and winter dreams.
I’m feared for my teeth,
but I’m the one who runs away,
happy to climb any tree that will hold me.

The crab is my small self.
No heart, no soul.
All claws and crust, ambition, critique.
I scuttle and pinch. I crack. I’m cracked.

If I release my middle name into the mix,
I find a barnacle never letting go of the past,
a bee keen on variety, a stoic camel,
comatose clam. Eel and elk, seal and snake,
lamb and mare and yak—what do they want?

I watch my bear and crab crawl the night sky:
rectangular dippers, an upside-down Y.
They are outside and within me,
my nemeses, my guides,
my water, my earth.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 21, Issue 4.

Sara BackerSara Backer’s first book of poetry, Such Luck (Flowstone Press 2019) follows two poetry chapbooks: “Scavenger Hunt” (dancing girl press) and “Bicycle Lotus” (Left Fork), which won the Turtle Island Poetry Prize. Her writing has been honored with residency fellowships from the Norton Island and Djerassi programs and with eight Pushcart nominations. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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