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Sara Moore Wagner

Housewife as Anastasia Romanov

There are fractions of moments I forget who I am,

like when I’m sitting on the couch waiting

out the evening, the clock dialing up each number so slow—

I fold my hands as I would a jewel into my hem,

and where did I go, just then? Identify my body

now for me, a long shadow on the wall

behind where my children play. I want to escape

death as I do my life each night, taking off this skin,

stepping into the mass grave of sleep.

Even if it isn’t me escaping but some other girl

with my same nervous eyes and fake front tooth,

some other who will eat all the chocolates

with her gloves on, not care about what’s spoiled,

about the body, identity—what can you identify

of me beyond this show I put on each morning, my face—

And even when you see my bones laid out, you won’t know

me. In the evening, I feel that settling or setting;

you won’t know me, but I’ll be the one you look for.


Marriage Organisms

We pour the curds and whey through a cheesecloth to see what’s left over. When I say see, I mean with my eyes which I often forget are organs, organic, full of tissue. Will decay. How my skin reflects light like an oily casing. What’s there—what is it we’re making here, in the dim kitchen light, straining. I say eat this and you do. Your tongue is a pink muscle moving out—I kiss you because I don’t want to be made of flesh, like this. To need to make something to feed you. I want to be it. Enough. A spoon, or road, or color. To be a yellow light at the base of you. To not know a word like fester, cluster, mold—to steep, then burn out with a smell like drought. This is how I’ll love you: until we become something else. Until it’s done.


Housewife as Archetype

If they knew more, they’d tend to us less.

We wrap ourselves domestic, in foil or cellophane,

but our skin unpeels in shadow, sweats

like the browned cheese on the noodles

we re-heat and re-heat.

Add water and a dash of salt.

I have made you this to feed you.

If you knew more, you’d imagine me spoiling

and ripening, you’d want to cut off

my bruised bits, to save me as any delicious

bite. But I’m hysterical, hysteric. Listen,

I have not been coming here to hurt you, but to tend

some fire until we’re all full and warm, or else

to put something between

my legs and ride away.


First Anniversary Sonnet

after Job

Teach me how to be quiet and I will listen

to what you have to say. Even when I’m not

speaking, the sand pours from my open mouth.

What will you do when we are both so buried

in these vows we’ve made, we cease

to have bodies of our own? This granulated

voicelessness mountains. Even now, you run

your hand over my constricted stomach,

and I use every bit of breath to pray,

crush us—crush us—crush us: both of us.

Crush us. I want to be that someone you dreamed

up, silent on a hilltop, gentle, pristine. Teach me

how to not cleave open my breastbone,

every single morning. Teach me to want it.


Sara Moore Wagner is the Cincinnati based author of the chapbook Hooked Through (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies including Glass, Gulf Stream, Gigantic Sequins, Stirring, Reservoir, and Arsenic Lobster, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was a recent finalist for the Tishman Review's Edna St Vincent Millay Prize. Find her at

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