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Even Absence: Six Poems

She used the word alabaster too often. And breath, as if her body always knew what lay ahead,
the repetition of need. Even absence became a title. Even then long shadows danced in the room,
wind slithering under the door. There was a hint of that tricky left eye, still squinting, an itch to
become worse. Fire had its annual appearance, though not at first, and always confused with a
sense of death or doom. Throughout there was a certain rage, a questioning, “how can this be?”
Rage might be a response to events, or it might have always simmered, a disorder from birth.
Adrenaline disfunction, tempered by sound alone. Thistledown, thread, vestment, stone, weave,
water, unsaid. And pockets, on one side or the other, holding the conviction she might never
speak again.


In Place                                                         
In place of a song a gasp an echo a tune to walk into —
place a misshapen quartz in the palm of the hand though
of what use consolation, considering
a way to move, chance decision distracted by
song, and the pink stone’s warmth left on the skin, 
a reciting of Aves, that should be the trick, or to
gasp, try to force one tear from its duct,
an emergency, though not clearly so, more an
echo from one mountain top to another,
a twisting of nature before the slide down, what a
tune, I can almost hear comfort
to fit with the melody, or did I invent that and  
walk forward, or change mind, turn around
into someone, something else for a time


Let Me Be Clear

As I am only together
by string, let me be,
doubtless, cascading while
bound one to one, to be
clear let me be illusion,
the click of attachment,
let me appear as change 
at each end, a trick
position to be clear,
a flip upside down
of a piece, that piece
only to let it be
in the drawing up
of me, in ribbon tied,
linked by need
only to be clear


Drawn From

You someplace now awake, you as what
I   she   I   you   all is as mine
again awash, to rest as night follows day cloud-noise,
receding truth of the sea, the body
a fingering sense, an offer here beyond the known —
one lingers, responds between the rocks, remembers disordered prophecies:
the protected hand, the thinning words polished after letters arrive



A tree was turned to a cross
yet the tree’s fallen
leaves are collected, some relic
held as all relics are held, revered,
objects with their touch of fear          
that make for recoiling, the sacred
shiver, reminder of what cruelty has been
yet your warmth here, with its imperfection,
is a perfectly confused truth, 
suffering conflated with greater need —
I can no longer distinguish



Waves, light gilding the room. Backs, arms, even memories, now though, that alone, the warmth,
is needed. Forward sight half closes against the glare, shut but for a minute to the view. Slope,
angle, a demand to find one’s footing. Fate calling me, or simply habit, to be here ⸺ desks
discarded, chairs cast aside, shoreline detritus among windowpanes of water through which to
watch the depths.


Susanne Dyckman is the author of two full-length volumes of poetry, equilibrium’s form (Shearsman Books) and A Dark Ordinary (Furniture Press Books), as well as a number of chapbooks, the most recent in collaboration with the poet Elizabeth Robinson. Her work has been published in a number of journals, the latest being Fence, Denver Quarterly, and parentheses. She has taught undergraduate and graduate-level writing courses, and for five years hosted a summer poetry reading series. She lives in Albany, California.