Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Susan Terris


Diptych: Triangle

–Double or Nothing

It was a different era—my parents, like lovers
From Hummel greeting cards, cared more

For each other than for us. They smoked Luckies,
Drank bourbon on the rocks, golfed, bridged.

When my father died of cancer and another man
No-trumped into Mother's life, she said she wouldn't

Wash his socks, had made all the compromises
When married, and was not going to do that again.

    ≠


  –Nothing or Double

As a hedge against time, Mother told us, be sure
To have more than one man in your life.

Did she? No way to know now. But I've tried out
Her theory—a kind of isosceles triangle with me

As the point. A precarious balance: marriage and
Shadow marriage, marrow and de facto marrow—

A doubling that doubles cores, gives nothing, leaves
Me poker-faced and still making all the compromises.

Diptych: Scraps

–Buck & Wing

When he braced his hands on my bare breasts,
I asked myself, Oh god, what have I done?

The white satin dress sat stiffly in the hotel
Chair rustling as I asked myself between bucks—

An unbuckled 21, buck naked, no bucks in the bank—
For the rest of my years, Who is he? Who am I?

Is this the scrapbook of a life or just scraps?
Is this eternity, or can I take wing and fly off?

    ≠


–Wing & Buck

Like a grounded raven , I pick my way over
An endless field of glacial scree. That white-dress

Dream was some other girl-woman.
Buck has slowed from gallop to trot to walk, and

I've lost the lyrics to the song of yesterday.
The children have morphed, as have I, yet not he.

He, my old love, once-love, is the broken wing
I drag, leaving a faint trail beside my dusty prints.


Diptych: Wilderness

                                         --Claw & Tooth

It was the canoe trip where Frances, with a hatchet,
hit the artery in her ankle. After hours

Of direct pressure and dinner of burnt squaw corn,
The thirteen-year-olds woke me at midnight

Screaming, Bear! Bear in the campsite! Dazed yet
Oddly brave, I—counselor—stalked from my tent

With the blood-stained hatchet in hand. There:
Only a hunched raccoon scarfing up garbage.

    ≠


       --Tooth & Claw

When I was barely 18, parents trusted me
With their children. Why? Whatever I did know has

Drifted off like milkweed silk. No more squaw corn:
politically incorrect. No more hatchets: too dangerous.

No counselors under 21, no open fires, no tenting near
Predators. And forget barbed hooks, canvas canoes

In white water. The wilderness has been Disneyfied.
But human nature remains red in tooth and claw.

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