Issue > Poetry
Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson

Peter Swanson lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. He has recently been published in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, The Lyric, Measure, Unsplendid, and The Vocabula Review.

Young And Innocent

The English countryside is littered
With shy brides. They stroll with intention,
The tweedy kind, through church graveyards
And past the signposts of each hedged lane.

And some are commonplace as vegetables,
And some are ministering angels,
And some are aproned to their stalls,
And some are pale as pealing bells.

And some, like her, are open roads
In morning light. She cracked my life in half,
The early part swept away like broken cups.

I no longer hear my name in distant seabirds'
Chattering. I hear it in the creaking roof,
And the soft whisper of our discarded maps.


Not much is larger than my house. The sea,
Sometimes the sky, each black as coal.
On walks my new life does not follow me.
I tread the cliffs and look for narrow shoals

Where waves will form even on the stillest days.
I try not to think of the places that I'm walking from.
Instead I gaze at tortured trees
And clouds that look raked over with a broom.

Turning back, my dress clings to my thighs,
My sweater riffling like reflective rain
Collected in a puddle. A solitary

Walk each day does not protect me from my life,
Nor am I sure I want to be alone again.
The house looms up. It's taller than the sea.

Mr. And Mrs. Smith

There was a winter that we learned to ski.
There was a summer month in Bas Moulins.
We'd watch the yachts come back from sea
And play croquet upon a sloping lawn.

You lost your garter on a New Year's Eve.
I lost my fortunes in a war, and won
Them back a thousand-fold. Twenty years we've
Rarely been apart. You are my sun

Each summer day, my moon in winter's night.
And if I had to do it all again—
That leaky lodge in the Great North Wood,

Spring in Venice with its floating light,
All evenings out, all afternoons spent in,
All mutual hours—I don't believe I would.


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