Sara Eliza Johnson

I am ready to be loved by any thing.For your love, I’d wash your feet, bake you bread,water your flowers when you’re away.I’d sleep outside with them, would pourblood straight from my wrist to feed them.I’d cut the circle in my chest to make spacefor the moon, let a star nest inside melike a scorpion, just to feel its lovethough it would hurt. And though it would hurt,if I could not be loved, I’d puncture my skullthrough the ear and drip every dreamI’ve had into the soil, a shadowhoneyfor the worms to eat, if they might know meas one of them, teach me how to movethrough their darkness. I’d feed my heartto a snake if it would show me how to changeskins, how to survive as an unloveable thing.I would cut my soul out to make roomfor another soul, push it out in loopsthe way frostflowers, in those first hoursof spring, push through the stems in a field,mimicking flowers. I’d push through myselfthe way pain had pushed through my brain,like a tooth through a gum, until I couldno longer contain it. Stranger, I’d even liedown for the axe if it could make me new.In my mind, the moment is so beautiful:my head will roll away from my necklike the shadow through the eclipse,like a stone from the door of a tomb.Then I’ll climb out of that body, a lambwith claws and a sleeping viperwhere a beating heart should be, lambthat could kill if you came any closer,lamb that eats the wildflowersfrom your hand without fear.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Sara Eliza Johnson is the author of Vapor and Bone Map, which was a winner of the 2013 National Poetry Series. Her poetry has appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, New England Review, Boston Review, Copper Nickel, Ninth Letter, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Pleiades, the Best New Poets series, Salt Hill, Cincinnati Review, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day program, among other venues. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, two Winter Fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a residency from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Johnson is an assistant professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

"In Vapor, Sara Eliza Johnson’s remarkable poems detail the pressures of survival, and the horrors of it. They reach for the edges of darkness—from the abyssal plains of the sea and extremes of exoplanets—in search of debridement and mathematical truth, for a vapor with the anatomy of a shame. These gorgeous, lyric poems find their inspirations in science, but Johnson does more than that. She can find the pulse in a fossil, the wind trapped in a glacier. Johnson's primordial poems have an urgent message: a reminder that it’s never too late to be alive."
—Traci Brimhall

"I concur: in reading Sara Eliza Johnson's Vapor, 'My body is wrapped in honey. When I step outside / I become fire.' I become air in the cells of these elegies for the eternal. Impossibly visceral, these poems peel back epidermis and discover a field of fever, unlock a nebula from a lilac, and find an altar for one's head, in wind whirling at the speed of light. Each poem illuminates the volition and velocity of violence, and each poem is a rebirth. No one writes like Johnson."
—Phillip Williams

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.