|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.
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
When I separate an egg, I feel my grandmother’s hands inside of
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,
Abby, intemperate, is small enough to fit in her middle school
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
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
On good days, though, even these messages may translate into song.
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