Sarah Certa

The Learning Channel

I used to want to be a psychologist until I realized that I would be a terrible psychologist. I’d cry too much. My office would be an ocean. I’d hand patients life jackets as they came through the door, say, I want to help you all but I’ll be drowned before this is over. I have this problem where I picture everyone as the babies they once were. I see whole rooms swimming with babies. They’re leaking out of magazines at the grocery store, out of the gas station, the television. The President of the United States is a baby with a red and white striped tie around its neck. The homeless man I avoid eye contact with as he stumbles by is a fat, loud baby, insatiably rooting for a breast. All the soldiers in all the wars are babies crawling towards me, their tongues sparking like hot metal. I know an 80-year-old man who used to write love letters on the back of photographs for his wife. Now he has dementia and calls her A stupid bitch, but when I think about them they are both babies dressed like 1932, propped up in carriages and gumming their fleshy fingers in dumbfounded reverie. There’s a baby in the bathtub. It’s the third grader from Anoka, Minnesota, who tried to drown himself because he wanted to be with his older brother, who hung himself in his bedroom. When I think about his mother finding him I see his baby self hanging there, all blue and swollen like a bruise. What’s the prescription for tragedy? If I was a psychologist all my patients would be babies, drooling babies with big red mouths, their lifetime of sadness rolling towards me like a planet knocked out of orbit by its thrashing and too-human heart.

Like Drugs

I’m riding a train across the barren Midwest in February
and wondering if the suicide rate in the Caribbean
is significantly lower because of all the sunshine
and color there. I’m wondering if you’ve showered
yet today. I’m riding a train and then I’m not and
suddenly my mouth is not my mouth but a flower
blooming on your skin. Your nose touches my nose
and my nose blushes. Let’s hold hands under a blanket
and call it spring. Let’s kiss anywhere except the mouth
and call it amazing. Have you ever wondered why
toaster pastries come sealed in packs of two even though
a serving size is only one? It’s like they were meant
to be shared. If we were in middle school I would slip a heart-
shaped note into your locker that says I like you. If we were in
high school I’d wear a mini-skirt and hope you’d notice how my legs
look extra long when I wear heels. And if we were 19 and at
a college party, I’d drink just enough boxed wine to be able
to put my hand on your waist and kiss you behind the ear
after I lean in to tell you that I’m really glad to see you.
I’d smoke a cigarette just to be outside with you. What is it
about you? It’s like getting high: I don’t even like it but still
there’s something sexy about the idea of it. Maybe
it’s the act of rebellion. The act of surrendering yourself
to yourself. If we fell in love it’d be something
like drugs, like storm clouds at night, like how lightning during a blizzard
makes the whole sky electric blue. We would be beautiful
and awesome like that. Bizarre and addicting, the way
being bad tastes like black velvet, like whiskey. Sometimes you
taste like that. Or at least the thought of you tastes like that, like
a bitter pill I keep under my tongue until it melts
into me the way I imagine you would if I let you.


Sarah Certa is 24 and pursuing an MFA in Poetry through the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She’s found home in many places though she currently spends most of her time in central Minnesota. Her work has most recently been featured in MudLuscious Press, anderbo, MIPOesia, and em:me.