Susan Rich is the author of three collections of poetry, The Cartographer’s Tongue / Poems of the World (2000), Cures Include Travel (2006), and The Alchemist’s Kitchen (2010). She has received awards from PEN USA, The Times Literary Supplement, and Peace Corps Writers. Recent poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Poetry Ireland and TriQuarterly. She lives in Seattle, WA where she teaches English and Film Studies at a local community college.
with a line borrowed from Nellie Sachs
If I could, I would protect you from your own sorrow;
from the frayed ends of welcome mats, the crush of 5 AM
traffic, maple trees and the stock market’s long descent.
I would shelter you from mortgaged rooms that open
inward and deflect the day’s inglorious path to pill-filled
nights; pensioners along the promenade, the foghorn’s
amorous cry. Mostly, I would harbor you from appetites
old — young — your hopes rife as wildfire to disarm
any woman for an hour, a grope never more
than an ottoman away. In Thailand, they say a generous
heart is a water heart, but today tears don’t come that way.
You say, I can’t make love without music, as if this were revelation
made into art — praise song for what rhythms your body prays.