Wednesday Jul 17

Rich Poetry Susan Rich is an award-winning poet, editor and essayist. She's the author of four poetry collections including, most recently, Cloud Pharmacy and The Alchemist's Kitchen (White Pine Press), and co-editor of the anthology, The Strangest of Theatres, published by the Poetry Foundation and McSweeneys. Rich has received awards from Artists Trust, the Fulbright Foundation, The Times Literary Supplement (London) and the Seattle Mayors Office of Arts and Culture. Her work has recently appeared in New England Review, Pleiades, and The Southern Review.

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Song of the Small Boats


When I retrace childhood I detect discount department stores
                                            and grocery carts where

we wait in lines of werewolf women grasping polyester
                                                robes and hand towels

in the New Year’s after sales. Then would come the kitchen table parade—
                                                the dappled sea of Formica

with carrier bags overflowing like small boats
                                                of wonder: lightly stained curtains and a faux alligator

belt, lace-up shoes. Add in: one coleus plant
                                                not quite dead; a poncho.

Then once a month my mother would open the family album to reckon
                                               accounts, balance allowances

for oil heat and phone bills; the air cold enough for corpses
                                               to stay preserved in.

We lived it should be noted, frugally: no playroom to fly in,
                                                no strong umbrellas.

My skin a foreign vessel of goose bumps. Department
                                         stores the anchor, the temporary landing.