Spell to Locate the Unreachable

As no assistance could be expected
of the ocean, I turned to the trumpeting
tunnel of sky and rummaged
the tops of plum birch turning
their leaves like coins, then
to the tumbler sweating
on the porch rail. The sky,
the color of whale oil. The wind,
a box of uncolored letters. And so
I was gris-gris with my lichen hair
and moonstone wound
around my neck, a raccoon
stuck under an electric
fence, or a photo showing
only one wick at a séance.
How to unpin this particular
corner of sky? I sing
an antler song to find
you, but there’s no trace
of the sky in the sky. I’ll have to
collapse the air to find you.


Copyright © 2016 by Sarah Messer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 11, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem sitting on a porch in West Virginia a few years ago. The sky was about to storm and the previous night a raccoon had gotten stuck under the electric fence, and I had helped it escape. I was longing to know the heart of my teacher, of God, of the ineffable, and thought of the sky as an amulet, a voodoo (gris-gris) spell that I might use to reach them.”
—Sarah Messer