Poetry Sunday: “Sieve,” by April Ossmann


Young men seem all edges
..and hard angles, shoulders
…..like shelves, bellies like slides

to the most obvious
..of pleasures, young women
…..all crisp curves, so round

and firm, their union seems
..geometrically insoluble.
…..We soften as we age,

our geometries slipping
..and sliding, in small
…..or quantum leaps,

bodies and definitions blurring
..as we morph, like mercury,
…..into each new self we shape.

Living softens us
..to fill death’s vessel,
…..not like the solid we seem,

but the liquid we are—
..so we may slip the cup
..like the sieve it is.



First published in Cumberland River Review. From Event Boundaries (Four Way Books 2017) and reprinted with permission of the press and available for order here.


April Ossmann is the author of Event Boundaries (Four Way Books 2017) and Anxious Music (Four Way Books 2007) and has published her poetry widely in journals and anthologies, including Colorado Review, Harvard Review, and From the Fishouse (Persea Books 2009). Her poetry awards include a Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant, and a Prairie Schooner Readers’ Choice Award. She has published essays including Thinking Like an Editor: How to Order Your Poetry Manuscript (Poets & Writers, March/April 2011) and a biography/critical study of poet Lynda Hull in American Writers Supplement XXI (Charles Scribner’s Sons 2011). Former executive director of Alice James Books (2000–2008), she owns a consulting business (offering manuscript editing and publishing advice. She is a faculty editor for the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at Sierra Nevada College, and teaches private tutorials and poetry workshops using a method she developed to teach poets to objectively revise their work. She lives in West Windsor, Vermont. www.aprilossmann.com


Poet’s Note

I wrote “Sieve” sitting in my car in a parking lot waiting to meet a friend for a meal, and noticing the passersby…youth, aging, and mortality were much in my mind at the time, as I had lost three close family members in three-and-a-half years. This poem is one of the furthest along in my learning curve, coming from a place of acceptance.

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  • Marianne Sippel August 1, 2017 at 11:27 pm

    As a 63 year old woman, poet since I could write and human, I love this. I know this. Thank you, April. We look a lot alike.

    • April Ossmann August 8, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you, so glad to connect! My doppelganger?

  • carol ann hoorn July 23, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    I like Sieve very much as it describes very well my youthful past, middle age strengths, and sometimes laughable physical weakness as
    I slide closer to the final sip , now at 83. I am fortunate that my brain, though slipping, is still fairly sturdy and can still laugh at how clumsy I am. I must admit, I long for cooler weather, as the heat has me turning into a liquid I find distasteful.

    • April Ossmann August 8, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      Thank you, so nice to hear this from my senior in perspective, and you made me laugh with “a liquid I find distasteful!”