Recent Work By Aleah Sato

What influences you most?

Place. I remember spending hours outside when I was a kid, just witnessing the sights, smells, songs, etc., all around me. Having a sense of place, knowing my surroundings intimately is very important to not only my writing but also how I choose to live my life each day. I have developed a great appreciation for the small, the insignificant. The mercurial movement of a curved-bill thrasher, for example, becomes ‘the World’ within the world. Living in the desert has stripped my mental and emotional landscape down to austerity, at times. Twisted roots, death, sand, red, creosote, clouds … this big dusty landscape reveals itself to me in every aspect of my life. And, getting to know the pre-history of this place also reminds me that—despite its foreign feeling to modern residents—it has been a home for thousands of years to people who thrived here.

How do you feel about the color yellow?

I’m fascinated by yellow for its contrast. It reminds me of sickness, bruises, institutions … yet it is supposed to be a sunny, happy color—a field of sunflowers. Yellow is a vase of sunflowers next to a hospital bed where a person languishes. Yellow holds such contrast—sickness and joy.

What do you see right now?

A picture of me when I was two years old. I am wearing a new purple dress my grandmother made, and I am sitting on my grandpa’s favorite blue chair. I am smiling. I am wearing those clunky old white baby shoes that bear an odd resemblance to the orthopedic shoes old people wear. I appear happy.

Favorite mental illness?

Trichotillomania. I am a strong candidate for this, being slightly OCD.

Why do you write?

Because I need something to do while taming feral cats. It takes a lot of patience and silence.

Why do you feel afraid or inadequate?

I’m divorced. I know the world’s been divorced a few times over, but I had this idea that I would never get divorced, and when I did … well, it took a layer off of me. I’m also afraid of being a mother and not ever being a mother. I sometimes wonder if I will be picked up by a publisher, too. I feel embarrassed that I have not published an ‘official’ book, won an award or been offered a deal with the Devil. … I am not a competitor. I don’t own a house. I don’t like the city or the nightlife. And, I am sure that while I loathe the flu shot(s), I am going to be one of the small few who’ll pick up H1N1 and spontaneously combust in a coughing, wheezing finale.

Best day dream?

I am up on Little Wild Bill Mesa … the wind is blowing through my hair and dust devils are spinning. I am with my best friend. It’s quiet except for the sound of wind through a lone juniper. The departing sun still warms our skin.

I must warn you

By Aleah Sato


There’s a yellow bird over there.

When you squint your eyes, the bird
will turn into a woman
the kind of woman who straps
knives to calves.

She’s not an archangel

      (tell yourself whatever you need to).

She’ll disappear

when skin meets skin.
The clock face grows pale.

Time has evaporated. The thin

line between right and misery
has also faded.

You drink in my desire
for her, that ruby-throated

kind of poison.
You unlock the chambers of white 

noise      a magic trick.

This night is the swirling
Van Gogh dream. This night
is born to us
in the half-step. 

There’s a door over there, cracked
slightly.      Shut it. 

          Stop this bird from singing.