Antonia Clark, “Not as a Sheriff”

orange line

Not as a Sheriff

       On a line by Sandra Simonds*

The way I love you is not as a sheriff
who could round you up, lock you away
for safekeeping. The way I love you
is not as a preacher, ready with a sermon
or even forgiveness, and not
as a mechanic who could make things
run more smoothly. Not as a gardener,
a spray of blossoms in my hand
like a flimsy apology.
The way I love you is not as a rock.
I’ve never been that certain of anything.
And not as a house that can give you
shelter, a window that lets you look
in or out. The way I love you
is not as a road that knows where
it’s going or what it’s left behind.

I love you like a dream you’ve forgotten
we’re in, light knifing through the canopy,
rain drumming on corrugated tin. I love you
like an hourglass, a needle, a flame,
a whim to which you’re suddenly inclined,
a taste of fruit, familiar but strange,
a tune you can’t get out of your mind.


*“The way I love you is not as a sheriff…” from “Poetry is Stupid and I Want to Die” by Sandra Simonds, American Poetry Review, Vol. 43, No. 5.


Antonia Clark has published a chapbook, Smoke and Mirrors, and a full-length poetry collection, Chameleon Moon. Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online journals, including The Cortland Review, The Missouri Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle. A medical writer and editor, she has also taught poetry and fiction writing and manages an online poetry forum, The Waters. A logophile, Francophile, and oenophile, she spends her days using words like schistosomiasis and supraventricular, and her nights sipping Côtes du Rhône and playing French café music on a sparkly purple accordion.


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