April 13, 2014
Sugar and Sand

It starts as sugar and ends as sand,

starts with a white clot of blossoms,

a bundle in the bassinet, all slobber and possibility.

Then Robert Mitchum’s singing hymns in the moonlight,

sauntering along on the horse of a man whose throat he slashed for it.


Sugar, then sand. A girl twirls a phone cord

around her finger, voice of a boy in her ear,

then a widow is backing her Pontiac into the mailbox.


It starts dew-lipped and pink and gets mummified.

It starts as a rose on a bush then wilts in a buttonhole.


The middle’s a muddle—

a song in an unplugged jukebox,

a locked valise,

a whiff of Polynesia in Cleveland.

A child waves a paper scepter

while the emperor’s statue is loaded onto a flatbed.


A saint’s reduced to a tooth and a toebone.

It starts as sugar and ends.

A boy learns the box step, he learns where the cripples are sequestered.


The voice of the Lord is in the trees,

then it’s only crickets, it’s wind,

it’s April clearing its throat of a last bit of winter,

it’s sheep beneath the knife.


It’s dumbed down, scrubbed to nothing,

last year’s sled leaning in the shed on rusty runners,

a dead decade’s hats,

a past made of sugar. And sand.

Sand’s in the baby formula, in the wedding cake batter.

Sand’s in the sugar.

Impossible not to swallow them both, and so

be swallowed, by opening the mouth, by feeling

a first thing touch the tongue.


-Chris Forhan (Marion County)

from the author’s book, Black Leapt In (Barrow Street Press, 2009)


Forhan Photo

Chris Forhan is the author of three full-length books of poetry, most recently Black Leapt In (Barrow Street, 2009), and three chapbooks, most recently Ransack and Dance (Silver Birch, 2013).  He lives with his wife, the poet Alessandra Lynch, and their two sons, Milo and Oliver, in Indianapolis, where he teaches at Butler University.

Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!

Posted In: Poetry

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