Sarah Layden


The crooked curb rises

in shadows and my foot lands

awkward and torqued.

(Lack of hand/eye. An inner-

ear disturbance. Sun-blind and squinting.)

I miss the same cue I keep missing

and careen into a void of held time.

Not hours or minutes but seconds later

I strike the hard asphalt, my hands skimming

the moldering leaves with their lost

colors, bumpy with disease. That wet

gutter manages to skin me raw. My palms

regularly bear scabs, like accessories

I am ashamed of yet feel obligated to wear. 


Know this: there is always a witness.

My neighbor Frank laughs from his perch

on the roof of the house he never stops fixing.

He’ll say hello and I stumble, examining

the unbroken sidewalk for cracks. One day

his voice comes from the rungs of a ladder,

another time, he’s up in the dogwood

tree. Sometimes I trip just seconds before

I hear him say my name.



Sarah Layden’s poetry can be found in Margie, Blood Orange Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and the anthology Just Like a Girl, with shortfiction in The Evansville Review, Artful Dodge, Zone 3, Pindeldyboz, Vestal Review, and elsewhere. Excerpts from her novel Sleeping Woman appear in Freight Stories, Cantaraville, and the Dia d los Muertos anthology. She teaches writing at IUPUI and Marian College inIndianapolis.