Spotlight series #69 : Sara Renee Marshall

rob mclennan
2 min readJan 3, 2022

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


Richard Diebenkorn referred to his paintings as exercises in seeing, and I often think of writing this way — mediation to see or sense again, differently, through ineffable sensing and sense-making. I say that to say something, but I don’t entirely understand my own impulse to write. Maybe that’s precisely why I do it. There’s delicious pleasure in the dim, mysterious offices of writing — and agony too. Divorced from careerism, which I’ve never been particularly invested in, the poem has no utility beyond beauty. What an amazing reason to exist. Anyway, this particular ekphrastic poem came from watching Maya Deren’s “Ritual in Transfigured Time.” Her films compress or collide multiple experiences and perspectives into one crowded space. They revise the rules of physics and sequence the way dreams do. What is the invitation? I don’t know, but the eyes through which we, the viewers, see and move are touched with feminine terror, ecstasy, imperatives to perform, the occupation of marginal space, and the imminent threshold beyond which we might come undone — in other words, everything that brings me to the page.


after Maya Deren

A man throws her through time
sharpens her purpose to
the point of exile
Is it the remembered self she sees
vaguely recognized, a passing light
form across the current room or
does she hold her arms out —
as if in the dark — to prevent
crashing into old errors? We reel
in the skein of past yarn
cast unthinkingly in cat’s cradle
an infinity. The only thing undone
is the clock. The hope
I suppose is to reunite
two blunders into one. One fewer
than all the dancing selves
earning their forgiveness

Sara Renee Marshall comes from Colorado. She holds two writing degrees and another in Political Science. Sara’s poems appear in Colorado Review, Octopus, Jellyfish, OmniVerse, in chapbooks, and many elsewheres. She lives, parents, writes, and teaches in Portland, Oregon.