Three Poems
Nesmejána reflects the wonder
of laughter

Biography of the hero
who made the princess laugh

She has fallen asleep

Still connected to the Forest

She has a tie with grain and sowing
laughter ploughing and meeting

and water
She is the water

Husbandless mother

Ritual laughter

The name “Isaac” means laughter
Story of the princess who would

not laugh

Trail of springs she has left

Ourself answer Ourself
A hunts-up or morning song

At kingdom of Else-shore
Magi such as are magi

Come to us or come back to us
chaotic countrymen dreamed

Cross desert of Skehantowanoo
Fox Gap Tat Gap Wind Gap

Conduct and pilgrim congregation
torn flag torn proclamation

In turnip-patch by meetinghouse
jarred rover Jack Straw

Families meet with their names
Suburban play parents reading

I am also my secretary
We set out from Bethlehem

Metaphor or ghost of metaphor
Commander and sumpter soldier

Far from mastery
sea bones on the prairie

I write at night
Writing by night

of the world the world
Plans and whereabout

Sensible or mental

the War and the Fleet
Wish Tower Hill

a far saying felt by its fluttering

first Age of old age
spoke quietly halfspoke

Close in dim distance

tatter of brute meaning

Animal skins over children
and the hurts of children

Susan Howe’s books of poetry include The Europe of Trusts: Selected PoemsPierce-Arrow, and The Midnight (all New Directions). She has also authored several books of literary criticism, My Emily Dickinson (North Atlantic Books) and The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (Wesleyan).