Sofia Starnes
A Commerce of Moments

Paperback Edition
ISBN 1-886350-68-X

Editor's Choice for the Transcontinental Poetry Award for an
outstanding first book-length collection of poetry or prose.

Couplet by couplet, Sofia Starnes leads her readers on a poetic quest for understanding. Her perfect pitch and her acute sensitivity to the pace and nuances of language are reason enough for us to follow. A Commerce of Moments is a gathering of very special poems.

-- Billy Collins

A Commerce of Moments marks a solid debut for a poet whose craft and elegance are obvious from the first poem. This work of awe-inspiring clarity and purity of language is from a poet whose wide-awake eyes allow us to experience a vivid, lasting world. Blessed is a poet so connected to what is most essential to this life, and perhaps the next too. This book will enchant; a fine collection indeed.

--Virgil Suarez

Starnes possesses a fine tuned ear. This collection is so good reading one of these poems aloud relaxes your mouth.

-- David Baratier


Shadows of Innocence

Purewhite, paperwhites,
odor of petals on the wicker-stand on which

we lean.
Deathwhite, dogwood white, hybrid

shadows behind the screened porch...
We have been cautioned not

to invade the white square off the house,
where the dead live.

Why did you bring the bulbs
indoors this year? Fresh spring-

whites are for old slabs with their prone angels.
Remember the dotted hearts in our earliest

missals, their venial lesson, scent
of onion skin. We learned

from them never to flirt with a fragrance,
for the sake of our faithfulness.

Blameless lily-white,
how it escapes us, as white always does,

with the merest gesture: a finger
smudge on the slick envelope, thin trickle

on the swab where a nail
ripped, velvet eye-shade against the tissue,

powdery death.
Remember the white cassock our priest wore

in summer heat, like a returning santo?
It dropped its length on stubby

feet, into our muddy garden.


Flores de Mayo

Venid y vamos todos con flores a María,
con flores a porfía, que madre nuestra es.
(from a processional hymn)

May in absentia, magenta
in our grip; we cannot give a scent-by-scent

account, born-again children of that long-gone,
long-withered month.

Pink cellophane hour
of caladium leaves, straw-gold everlastings,

our thin exuding birds of paradise: disquiet
of an orange nib, the wilt and non-

wilt of its pair,
dependent on the day of month,

how sticky or how stupefied our hands.
All in that first forelived desire to be in love -

Children will always fret in starch,
and we, no less, ran out of chapel

for the patintero chalk lines: this,
our tumult, and that yours, border patrols

with arms wide.
Beneath our bursts, ants crawled out in anger.

I stepped on one small mound,
was fired upon a thousand times, poppy-red

around the ankles. Such
is the price of love and of invasion,

price of foreplay. Don't you see?
We exercise pursuit again, again,

whether in cotton eyelet, threadwork of old
thread hemming, or tightest thigh-sewn

jeans, clunky shoes or stilettos -
we pray-play for acceptance with eyes borrowing

an old omniscient spring.
In spite of everything we've

known and tried, how a Beloving lures us;
out of our game, still that darling likelihood.

Always a summer-rose
behind the rose-face of a mother.


With poems from: Calapooya, Defined Providence, Folio, Gulf Coast, Hayden's Ferry Review, Hubbub, Nightsun, Pleiades, Poet Lore, The Laurel Review, The MacGuffin, The Marlboro Review, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Turnings and others.