Sarah Barber

In Praise of Strike-Anywhere Matches

At the end of the seventies, tired
of watercolor landscape but unready
for portraits of kercheifed girls
in oily, garish rows, my great-grandmother
turned to clay. And so, against her taste,
my mother made her windowsill
a habitat for herbivores. For years
the weird menagerie of squirrel
and duck and lamb and rabbit squatted
out their crude-shaped lives, beige
and placid, there—and then they came to me
as if in definition of an heirloom:
not to be got rid of though tried
on every shelf and always out of place
until—thanks be to phosphorus
sesquisulfide and the Diamond match
company—the surface of their feet
revealed itself to be, for ignition,
suitably frictive—to my great relief.


Originally from St. Louis, MO, Sarah Barber now lives in rural upstate New York. Barber holds an MFA from the University of Virginia and a PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Since 2010, she has taught at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY where she is Associate Professor of English. Her poems have appeared in journals such as New Ohio Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, and Poetry. She is author of two collections: Country House, winner of the 2017 Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry; and The Kissing Party, published in 2010 by the National Poetry Review Press.