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Feature Poet Susan Sherman: Page 1


FIRST AND LAST POEMS
             for Violeta Parra

there is nothing romantic 
about death    about pain 
tears falling like soft clouds 
like copper clouds    the color of rusted blood 
the texture of fire

the first enemy is fear 
the second power 
the third   old age

all my life    all those books    all those feelings 
words    thoughts    experiences 
to say such simple words   to feel 
such simple things

your mountains    like my own    like home 
rows of dust    of light brown soil 
as if a gentle wind could level them 
could blow them away

the sea    touching my nostrils 
filling them    a country of smell 
of sound    of wine    flowers    of salt air 
of early morning    opening and 
opening    through my mind 
my heart    the extremities 
of my hands    my feet

if I were a bird and could float 
dipping and weaving tapestries of air 
and light    if we could fly together 
like silver crows    birds of dream 
until everything stops    is silent and 
gentle    like your songs    your voice 

but the world allows us nothing 
the world is nerves    is fiber 
dust and sand    the world changes constantly 
nothing remains the same
 
I see you singing into the air 
as if your voice could fly    be free 
were there creatures above you 
listening    fishing your gifts 
from the breeze    was there a place 
that could hold you as you opened yourself 
to it    as you went where no one else 
could follow    where no one else 
could see

                each time I have loved 
                I have left part of myself behind 
                until now 1 am mostly memory
                mostly dream    what I have left 
                I give to you    my last love 
                my last song

                the total of all
                I have ever felt or known

we grow smaller as we grow 
as things empty themselves of us 
and we    of them

it is so deep    this thing between us 
no name can contain it 
even time trembles
at its touch

  Susan Sherman__


THE TEARS OF THINGS

Will they cry for us when we have gone
the objects that adorn our lives
When we have left will they miss our touch
our need for them

Do they know they are the chosen ones
or do they fear we will tire of them
set them aside bound as they are by our desire
not theirs

A ball point pen white with gold bands
imported from France birthday gift
from a beloved friend A fountain pen
sun yellow with black enamel tip
Relics of an earlier age

Forty Oz books hidden from prying eyes
Well worn novels books of religion
philosophy the occult long out of print
All those books we hold dear have kept through years
with leather bindings colorful illustrations
childhood dreams

Even the magazines we treasure worthless
to others A college t-shirt now sizes too small
A pair of boots useless but prized
A turquoise necklace from an old lover
too full of memories to wear

All the things we refuse to throw away
Each one holding a piece of our past

No longer here people may cry for us
but even those who hold us dear
at a certain point move on Our objects
belong to us alone We have left part of ourselves
behind in them

Lacrimae rerum: the tears of things
Do they love us as we love them
Will they weep for us when we are gone

  Susan Sherman __



























IT IS RAINING

                  	and quiet 
Summer over  passing graceless
heavy  from the city 
I hear the rain and think
                                       of you 
your hands   rain   your eyes
rain   the way you speak and walk 
rain 
        the sound of it
                                 the smell
what it brings   what it leaves
behind


If I were somewhere else
If you were there 
with me  if we were there 
together  if it were solid space 
a place we could lie  talk   think 
look at the sky
                        touch 
if it were raining 
                             if we sat there 
together   touched there   together 
in the rain 

I think of rain as green 
I think of rain as brown  blue 
as color without light as light 
without color 
                     as part of me 
barely like memory   like dream
 
I think of you as rain 
as I see you  in rain 
as I wait for you  in rain 
as outside summer passes
                                           and rain falls 
           as it closes me 
                                   lightly 
           in its sleep  

  Susan Sherman__


THERE WAS A WOMAN ONCE

who was more to me than words   
any blending of alphabet   and sound   
We met at the corners of day
in the space where night crosses light
where shadows fold into darkness
The moments between our meetings 
were air   Forty years lie between her
and this poem   a length of time 
impossible to render  

There was a woman once who was more 
to me than imagination   wonder
the chimeras that embrace the night  
More than the chill kiss of wind that tortured
her secret into patterns of light and
breeze   A woman who was more to me than
forever   the bending of syllable and time  

We met on a hilltop in Vermont   made love 
in the sweetgrass of our desire 
These are moments that defy forgetting 
These are moments time cannot cure with 
detail noise distraction    Mornings that bound us 
sticky and tight   with dew  

There was a woman once who was more to 
me than flesh   We touched to open 
and then once again to close  
the way a negative is held over wary eyes
to keep the sun from blinding in the madness
of its fire   What lay between us was that
strong   What joined us was that fierce
Lying in each others  arms  

Married   she had never meant for us to happen   
had seen me as diversion   a momentary lapse
Now she called me treasure   promised 
to keep me always  cherished
hidden   in her private place
but forever is a length of time like any other
 
One afternoon   precisely at the stroke of one
she lapsed into a silence without boundary    
The air lay like a tomb around us   
She could not look at me   touch me   say my name
She had never meant it to go so far   
It had become too much for her to bear  
This woman who meant more to me
than words

Should I be grateful   thank whatever gods 
or goddesses   gifted me this passion   this legacy 
I cannot relinquish   cast aside
Forever is a length of time without forgiveness
After thirty years   I search for her no longer   
but for that moment  between opening 
and distance   when I held her close  
Not yet knowing enough to turn away

  Susan Sherman__