Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 4
Fall 2011

[Three Poems]

Shelley Savren

Losing You to AIDS

for Rodrigo
You stood tall in that multi-colored robe, black hair 
waving, looking a little like Donovan. Summer 
and a breeze barely floated through the fan. We
dropped acid, got naked, sweaty, romped and

giggled in the grass, stared hours into each other’s 
eyes, convinced we found our souls. Now it’s 
the nineties and hippies all have jobs. I find 
your San Francisco flat, where friends take turns 

walking you to the bathroom. On your bedside table, 
a clutter of pills. Your room is drafty, I’ve lost my
words but can’t stop searching your eyes. A slim 
smile passes from the corners of your mouth 

to mine, the only glow between us in a place so 
dark, it’s hard to make out the frame of your face.


Purple Irises

for Joyce
No one people can hold the entire light without shattering.
Each of us holds but a single ray.

—Rabbi Gershon Winkler
Purple irises bloom
through the slant of morning.
Summer has raised a pale sky 
and for a moment
nothing bends this silence.
You are watching through a window
as small threads of air
swirl through the garden
and birds begin to bustle.

It’s not like you never noticed.
You’ve heard the hard whistle,
the last dot of train
as it curves the horizon.
You know the squeak of the door
when it opens,
your steps measuring the distance
between the porch
and pigeons rearranging the sky.

The garden bench is still dew damp 
and your robe sweeps moisture
from the grass.
You step slowly
because it’s the season of snails,
blackness chewing holes into leaves,
the crow cracking peanut shells
and fowling the birdbath.

But this moment,
when the cancer is no longer quiet
and light shatters each breath,
jasmine twists the fence
and slings its smell.
Irises breathe with you.
There are no shadows in this picture,
just light crackling,
a single ray quivering in your eyes 
and your body bending into this bench.


The Court School

Her face was a welt
and her brown hair chopped to a crew.  
Jumped by a gang of girls, was all she said. 
This was her chance to write anything 
she wanted, but she shouted, 
Go fuck yourself and your poetry, too.

It was different the next week.
She was quiet.  
Kept her head tucked into folded arms.
Look up, I told her. Look at the sunflower.
Look at the cardinal in the picture.  

This time she wrote.
The tree it landed on has no leaves.
The yellow in the sunset stings my eyes, 
but I can’t stop looking at the sparkles.
Something is hiding underneath.  

It has a mean mouth and wears a sharp coat.
It is The Color Red.


“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury