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About this Poem 

"The prose poems in this series are dedicated to Paul Thek (1933-1988) and Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924). They were inspired by Thek’s recent Retrospective at the Whitney called Diver and a month spent as an artist-in-residence in the Gardner Museum in Boston. Mrs. Gardner may be our first American Installation artist." —Susan Howe

from Debths

Susan Howe, 1937

A work of art is a world of signs, at least to the poet’s nursery
bookshelf sheltered behind the artist’s ear. I recall each little
motto howling its ins and outs to those of us who might as
well be on the moon illu illu illu


Antique Mirror
Etce ce Tera. Forgotn quiet all. Nobody grows old and crafty
here in middle air together. Long ago ice wraith foliage.
I had such fren


Our mother of puddled images fading away into deep blue polymer.
Seaweed, nets, shells, fish, feathers

Copyright © 2013 by Susan Howe. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 19, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Susan Howe

Susan Howe

Susan Howe was born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000.

by this poet


For here we are here
daylight does not reach 
Vast depth on the wall

Alapeen Paper Patch Muslin
Calico Camlet Dimity Fustian
Serge linsey-woolsey say

A wainscot bedsten & Curtans
& vallains & iron Rodds


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Day is a type when visible
objects change then put

on form but the anti-type
That thing not shadowed

The way music is formed of
cloud and fire once actually

concrete now accidental as
half truth or as whole truth

Is light anything like this
stray pencil commonplace

copy as to one aberrant