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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 27, 2017.
About this Poem 
“This poem was written during a hike I took near Ithaca, New York. Because I have lived in cities all my life, I feel a little unsettled in ‘nature.’ Part of my unease comes from not knowing the names of the living things around me—from being at a loss for words. And, for a poet (with a poor Wi-Fi connection in the middle of a forest), that can be frustrating. So, I wanted to make a poem using what I had at my disposal—my ears—and use sound as a vocabulary, to recreate a place with a sonic lexicon.”
—Susan Landers

I Don’t Know What You’re Called, I’ll Call You by Your Sounds

dew grass a fire shine
mountain a lung
pine cone the bone
tsunami rock hawk jaw
gravity a fall all consuming
a song chirp for sunlight
spine daggers cracking
the sky an ocean paused in its crashing
creature shake trip whistle
rustle nut squirrel swish
stump thunder or thump
thump a swallowing
you beautiful urchin
you rot mound of moss. 

Copyright © 2018 by Susan Landers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 27, 2017. by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Susan Landers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 27, 2017. by the Academy of American Poets.

Susan Landers

Susan Landers

Susan Landers is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Franklinstein (Roof Books, 2016).