Issue > Poetry
Susannah Lawrence

Susannah Lawrence

Susannah Lawrence is the author of two books on natural history. She received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her manuscript, New Theories of Home, was a finalist for the Many Voices Project Prize in 2013. She lives in Norfolk, CT.


The falling day, the warmed sand, the length of you enclosing me, the shock

of waking, eyes gluey with salt, with wind tears—how little more

I remember and am embarrassed even to admit—in the rich midst of us, here,
years on—to this sweet thorn of loss, its unseeable point broken

under the skin. (Oh, small planet Greed spinning in me, your implacable gravity.)
Why this day, this sleep, this waking. The off-season lot free

of cars, of summer's clot of people, we parked anywhere. A day to own
our own stretch of beach, your pilgrim's gaze running east and west.

I know there was wind and fall's cleared light. December, I think, and oddly
clement. Sand would have peppered its minute gleams to your cheeks and chin.

Everything we were to each other new, borne for the first time into the public
of parents, brothers, sisters: a relief then, to drop to the sand, to nestle hips

in a generous dune. We rested under the needling wind as if waiting for something
too vast to end. I cannot hear what we said. After, in the late hour, we woke

a little changed: and I think I knew, but couldn't say how I was
yours and you mine now, the way the sky meets the sea: air still air; sea still sea.

Rainy Sunday From An Unfamiliar Childhood

Mom sews a house for me.
Her machine's evergreen whir
needles it out of old sheets—
left-over Halloween ghosts
with holes for our eyes,
my brother's and mine,
turned windows.

When she flings the finished house
over a table repurposed
into beams and a roof tree,
walls like white cliffs
rise from a calm oriental sea.

Outside she lets me cut
one vast hydrangea
for a blue plastic pitcher.
The bush stems bow down
with rain-soaked heads.
She shakes the water off,
looses a few white petals.

Inside my house inside the house
I sit on a June-green pillow,
my moonfaced doll, Sarah,
in my lap. Her glass stare
sees everything. The flower
smells only of dank afternoon.

My mother peers in each hole,
her brown eye unreadable now
and larger. I want her to laugh,
but she disappears. I tip Sarah back
so she'll sleep, wonder
how long do I have to stay
here—in this ghost house.


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