Susan Terris

Susan Terris’ books include THE HOMELESSNESS OF SELF, CONTRARIWISE, and FIRE IS FAVORABLE TO THE DREAMER. Her work has appeared in many journals, including The Southern Review, The Journal, and Ploughshares. A poem of hers appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXI. She is the editor of Spillway Magazine and poetry editor of In Posse Review and of Pedestal. In recent years, she has won both the George Bogin Award and the Louis Hammer Award from the Poetry Society of America. In 2013, THE GHOST OF YESTERDAY: NEW & SELECTED POEMS will be published by Marsh Hawk Press.

A History of Sorts

My mother, unbroken, was a great beauty who exuded heat and light.
Windows rattle, and the sewer pipes at our house are broken.
A city raccoon or possum destroyed the dove’s nest in our Douglas fir.
When I separate an egg, I feel my grandmother’s hands inside of mine.
My forehead had a minute basel cell cancer and now has a long scar.
Though Anna Karenina was scarred, at sixteen I didn’t know that.
My father was a skating champ, but his temper deserved trophies, too.
Abby, intemperate, is small enough to fit in her middle school locker.
My sly mother was a champion at bridge, Scrabble, and backgammon.
At our summer place, the grass is studded with scarab-like beetles.
My father taught me to swim, to race, and to ignore the fear of failure.
But the children—bravado of the half-grown programmed to fail.
My old western city has corrosive politics and infrastructure.
And I, my corroding house. I could leave tomorrow, never look back.
Still, my neighbor feigned surprise when her mastiff left me a message.
On good days, though, even these messages may translate into song.



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© Copyright, 2012, Susan Terris.
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