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About this poet

Susan Rich is the author of Cloud Pharmacy (White Pine Press, 2014). She teaches at Highline College and lives in Seattle, Washington.

Still Life with Ladder

Today, the sky saved my life
caught between smoked rum and cornflower.
Today, there is a color I can’t name cruising past

the backdoor – it is the idea of color.
Cloudscapes evaporate like love songs
across lost islands, each a small bit coin of thought.

Today, I am alive and this is a good thing—

clams in the half shell, a lemon rosemary tart.
I live in the day and the day lives past me.
If I could draw a map of the hours, a long

horizon would travel on indefinitely ~ a green, backlit thread.

The sky? It is never the same – it is sour milk
and whipped cream, a sketchbook and flour-dusted jeans.
Today, I am in love with the sky.

It doesn’t care if my father is dead,
or that I live by myself with his Masonic watch.
I sew time with my mother’s button jar.

I’ve improvised my life ~ let the sky pull the strings.

Tonight, I will borrow the golden ladder from the orchard,
travel from this sphere into the next and expunge
the leftover sadness of the hemispheres, to move beyond

the beyond which is here, present, alive in this hyacinth room;

time leaps over itself, after and out of the tangled past
over shadows of weather falling across a back window~
to forgive one another; to try once more to live it right.

Copyright © 2011 Susan Rich. “Still Life with Ladder” originally appeared in Quiddity. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 Susan Rich. “Still Life with Ladder” originally appeared in Quiddity. Used with permission of the author.

Susan Rich

Susan Rich

Susan Rich is the author of Cloud Pharmacy (White Pine Press, 2014).

by this poet

poem
That night the air stank, the stars obscured behind wild horses
of clouds. I walked on cobblestones on the edge of something

I could not name: new land of unalterable decisions
like a retinue of assassins coming right for me, who kept coming

in a bad dream that dissolved like a black-
2
poem
 
after W. S. Merwin
 
 
Let’s just listen—  
 
before the spent words and the hidden nests
of sentences begin, before the musical count
 
of vowels and consonants, the ink
 
poem

Past Storrow Drive, over the Mystic
River Bridge, my father lived in Chelsea—

home to Katz’s two-step bagel, to perpetually
broken sidewalks. A minor chord

in an immigrant tale—feral curls,
thirdhand coat—my dad looks

into the me he cannot imagine.
His eyes and hips glitter as