|"These poems are our fondest human wishes and hopes given voice. They report the world’s abundance and richness even amid loss and pain." –Li-Young Lee
|Susan Terris: Natural Defenses
"The final poem, 'Who Can Convince the Sea to Be Reasonable' concludes with a prayer for the re-evolution of land-based life like our own, asking that '...the albatross make their nests on the sand / and the golden fish walk together from the margin /with a new knowledge of the meaning of light and air. At their best, Terris' poems figure for us just such a journey into a full and diffficult appreciation of our elements." —Reed Wilson, Poetry International
Susan Terris's poetry is exquisite and extraordinary. Her poems exhibit an intellectual verve and a linguistic brilliance that are remarkable. There are few poets who can so deftly orchestrate the dramatic dilemmas of the daily with the profound wisdoms of the larger world. –David St. John
There seems to be no limit to the range of experience and empathy in the far-reaching poems of Susan Terris. Out of a life passionately lived and remembered, she has constructed a bold map for survival and selfunderstanding. Her wisdom, dazzle of language, imaginative exploration
of time and nature, and amazing appetite for risk and "dark surprise" make Natural Defenses a book to treasure. –Shirley Kaufman
ISBN 0-9724785-5-8 $15.00
A risk-taker, I've never mastered
the art of protection
as a tree defends itself
against a giraffe
with bitter tannen that stops forage
and warns downwind
of danger. Or as a trout
hooked in a river
releases pheromones to alert
those swimming downstream.
Your reflexes, the fisherman warned,
slow down as you get older.
He was not speaking of fishing,
of course. But I,
disarmed by a taste for intensity,
less savvy than
trout or tree, forgot
to prepare myself for pain.
Even an old giraffe
remembers to browse upwind.
What Is the Distance In Round Meters
Between the Sun And the Oranges?
She dreamed herself
into the Dickinson house
and put on Emily's clothes.
Shrouded in white cotton,
she meant to haunt Amherst,
She wanted a soft song of restraint,
path of easy pain,
season without sun or oranges,
a sudden winter where
she could boot across cobblestone,
pause by a pond and watch
fish shadows in the shallows beneath ice.
Mindfulness rather than
In a January thaw, she'd remember
how maidenhair uncurls in April
and hummingbird sips
nectar of a wild white azalea.
As Emily, she could spend
half-lit winter days
baking black cake
while she guessed how to reckon
distance or a life in round meters.
The title of this poem is from The Book of Questions, by Pablo Neruda