Saara Myrene Raappana

Two poems from Saara Myrene Raappana’s –
You Are a House, You Are a Hammer, You’re the Momentum of a Nail

followed by a note on the author

Lord, Make Me a Crane

Between lake-ice and evergreens (I’ve named
them all, the way we name things to remember

what’s stillborn to world or sky), I listen to
the sandhills leave. My father says they’ll swallow stars

for ballast and trail carnivals to perch upon
the Mega-Drop and wonder at what happy screams

the people scream while harnessed in and falling.
Or find a wave of Spanish moss and casting rods

and scatter underfeathers like freak blizzards, O,
and laugh what laughs behind their wingtips at

the insulated suits that shovel up
and organize the ground. Or, having wingclimbed

into space, ease their toes into
the moon’s ensilvered, bubbling face. Anywhere

besides this flank of gravel road. The beach
glows, not with discarded star-stones, but

with snow. I dream I’ll catch a sandhill bobbing past
a sag of fence, red mask blending in with

deer apples that, iced into their branches,
rot. She’ll regard me first with eyes that blink

like neon signs, then tilt her beak toward the sky
and flex her knees, and will the forest finally call

my name and spread its thousand wings?

Given and Shed
—Maasai enkang, Tanzania

Jesus spigots from a bull’s jugular, fills
an etched gourd. Body-hot, He steams like breath.
The olpayan sips brine-coppery Jesus.
Milk congeals in Him, turns yogurt-pink, is declined
by smiling tourists. Look up:
God is the whole, round, bird-hungry sky.


My dad distributed Jesus weekly to mouth-sized wildernesses,
deserts of tongue and jaw. Chaliced and whirlpooling,
room-temperature Jesus spattered my father’s chasuble.
For spills, Dad swept in with flannel, lest Jesus stain,
and spoke: a millhopper of souls, husk yielding to germ,
waves of eternal wheat. I thought of birdseed,
a sandstone spinning, a congregation of flour.


The olpayan thumbs his arrow—how sharp, how true.
Jesus, the blood beading its edge. That night,
I dream we meet. The olpayan kneads my flesh
into sourdough. He unravels the long cord of my blood.
He calls finches to gather at the trough of my chest
and carry me, in crumbs and ribbons, to the sky.

Saara Myrene Raappana is the author of the chapbooks Milk Tooth, Levee, Fever (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) and A Story of America Goes Walking (Shechem Press, 2016), with poems appearing or forthcoming in such publications as Blackbird, Linebreak, [PANK], The Gettysburg Review, and Vinyl Poetry and Prose. She was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in southern China, is a founding editor of Cellpoems, and works for Motionpoems. For more, go to

Given and Shed first appeared in The Gettysburg Review.