Susan Sonde


For As Long As You See Me,
For As Long As You Watch Me



Steel girders, those parts of things that were once human
are making a comeback, ruining the day.
I’m warming my numb hands on a cup of hot coffee,
on the smoke,
on an iridescence of words—a cartoon bubble
containing words—a crazed green—the illusion of smoke
that rises out of me.

It floats above the drift of the world.
It takes my words and evaporates. It flirts with nothingness.
It wrenches out the life and settles in an almost unbroken stillness.
No wind, no leaves displaced, only sun gravelly with pocking shadow.

Birds still chirp firmly on the neighbor’s roof.
My genes chirp firmly in my blood. My blood still flows.
There is body heat—I honor the body heat.
I light a cigarette. I don’t smoke.
The match sparks and flames. I honor the flame.

The darkling sky is gnawing on its black chains.
Light is losing its abilities.

What will the phrase be that is interrupted
by my final breath? What will have just been said by you
whose patience, whose love for me is losing molecules?

My days—my breaths—I count them off.
I am indigent. I am diligent—I pour out.
I ask for meds—I honor the meds. I bend to the cup.

The knives glitter in their dark drawer.


For as Long as You See Me,
For as Long as You Watch Me

Love, you say, is running out of molecules.
It’s disappearing. For a while
we see it, I say, when the people we care about
die, wrenched from us just like that: the unseen
hand lifting the load-bearing wall,
collapsing our infrastructure, as if nothing.

Yes, we open inward for a while, keep the wattage
in our houses low, endure night sweats, become
lachrymose, producing sea-going streams of tears
in which we go wading, suffocating in our too-young
wet immersions.

Sometimes a change of scale occurs in our thinking.
We say, this business of dying is planetary. Big,
blazing—blinding as a fat mestizo stone
in mestizo sunlight
and we don’t know where to put it.
Because, we all want to be stories without endings.
So we push pause and replay and are continued
in life as before.

Do you want to hang out a bit now here? Do you
want to talk more about it? Shall I go on?

Yes, there are tears, a loosening of the lachrymose.
Everyone goes wading and then, suddenly they do not.

A poet lies. Rivers flow to their junctures.
A woman breathes. On the ground in the garden
a solitary seed
grows a fulsome pear, enough for everyone.
Have you eaten? Have you taken your share?
Or do you hunger amidst this wealth of fruit-flesh?

I watch your hands. Your hands speak to me.
One is lifting a spoon to your heart where the hive is
located, the golden honey you spin and offer
to no one. One is holding on tight to a cloth
folded and endlessly re-folded.

Grand daughter—what’s between the rows
of unharvested wheat growing inside you?

One day, you are no longer at home here.
Your room runs out. Where you have arrived
is too far.

What’s up, I think is mostly with your pressure
cooker sensibilities, my beloved unknown, your depth
of ice core that annuls feelings.

Here, take this blanket of mine that was just covering
a steaming horse and wrap yourself in it. It rested.
It was tired, it was worn out. Then, go sleep in the park.
Go sleep inside light so that it can incorporate you
in its lustrous walls again.

I want you to want to be the gift you promised yourself—
the warm nape of a woman that wanted to give flight
to wingless creatures.

I am yours. Only yours for as long as you see me,
for as long as you watch me. Clench me in your teeth.
I am the Himalayas, the Andes, and finally,
only an arroyo.

Here, take this fistful of earth to ground you.


SUSAN SONDE‘s collection In The Long Boats With Others (New Rivers Press), won The Capricorn Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The North American Review, The Southern Humanities Review, The New Mexico Quarterly Review, The Mississippi Review, Boulevard, Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, and many others. Among other awards and grants, she was the recipient of grants in fiction and poetry from The Maryland State Arts Council and won The Gordon Barber Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. She has been a frequent fellow at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and runs a poetry series in Crofton Maryland.