Two poems from Sandy Solomon’s Catch
followed by a note on the author
“Two people, two baths,” the boy behind the counter
said, as he checked us out of our budget room.
The hotel, which overlooked Notre Dame,
was cheap, but charged, it seemed, for everything,
including a key to the bath. I corrected, “Two people,
one bath.” Less to pay. The boy,
maybe eighteen, blushed to the tips of his ears,
smirked, then looked away. Hired for the summer,
I guessed. We paused. I couldn’t not recall
me and you at either end of the large,
claw-footed, cast-iron tub
down the hall from our room. We’d sat, cramped,
but laughing; between us, the drowned pockets of our night’s
pleasure and the dripping, hard-edged tap.
That blush remains—more vivid than our night,
more vivid, even, than the view across the Seine
for which we paid another, extra charge.
Opening the clanking shutters, we’d found
the scene: our own Western façade, the towers
then uncleaned, so black with soot, so fine.
“Packs well,” she says, forming in ungloved hands
snowballs, lopsided, roughly made, and calls
her big-boned shepherd and my scruffy mutt
to catch each high, underhanded toss.
They make us laugh as they leap to mouth midair
those cold nothings. A chew, swallow, or spit
and, ready for the next gift, they sit to watch
her dig and palm. Sometimes she rises from her crouch
and throws long to make them run to the spot
where snow meets snow again and disappears
into itself. They circle, nosing, tonguing
winter’s traces—no smell, no taste, no sound.
Only feel and see the world, chill
and simplified now, except on the rise
where that blue round of sled the children guy
to the top, that disc on which they crowd (blur
of proximate color and sound) starts down,
turning as it glides. And falls again apart.
Blush first appeared in The New Yorker;
Pack first appeared in Ploughshares.
Sandy Solomon teaches at Vanderbilt University, where she is Writer in Residence in Vanderbilt’s Creative Writing Program. Her book, Pears, Lake, Sun, which received the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, was published simultaneously in the UK by Peterloo Poets. She’s published poems in magazines in both the US and the UK—most recently, in the New Yorker, Plume, Scientific American, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review, and Hopkins Review. Her poems have also appeared in such anthologies as Women’s Work; Orpheus and Company: Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology; and A Breathless Hush, The MCC Anthology of Cricket Verse (her favorite credit since it seems so improbable that an American would ever meet English approval on this subject). Born in Baltimore, she’s now lives in Nashville, TN, and part of the year, in London.