Susan Robertson (1943-1997)
Rink down—up last fall mirroring summer.
1200 steps to work—Seventh to Madison.
First, past 50—your bridal two-step.
New, wet grass invoking tomb.
Father: suicide; Mother: survivor; Sister: fatal breast.
Tai chi fighter, shrink, scholarship Bryn Mawr waif.
Lungs sicker than said or known.
Small talk—then you were gone.
10,000 years ago: not statue, urn, stone.
10,000 years ago: sexual proof of lives.
Left you that August—who shall say why?
Hammocked dozer; oil-slick lake rainbow.
10,000 years ago: hope—oldest karma.
10,000 years ago: friends—forever.
Also—noduled, cut out womb.
Transfusion, perhaps, the future tumor root.
Tall, rawboned girl, in a brown poncho.
Memoir of the body—10,000 years ago.
Tears upon tears—more than for anyone.
Susan—do you yet smile at dull woe?
High-heeled graduates’ pale lilies, arterial roses.
A couple’s extravagant, tortuous kisses.
Heard your name, as if called.
Neurons that will not be annulled.
Nothing to do but abhor the wind.
Implored the immortals for solace.
Smut-mouthed Brigitte: vulva peppers, black rooster.
Red-tongued Kali: lei of heads, corpse trampler.
Reached at last—furnace blast.
A few pounds of dust, ash, bone.
Carbon tundra turning under suns.
Born to your planet—less than a grass pebble.
[First published: The Cafe Review (Winter 2011-2012).
Revised Version: December 2012.]