Susan Roney-O’Brien

Susan Roney-O’Brien

Susan Roney-O’Brien lives in Princeton, MA, works with international students and young writers, curates a monthly poetry venue, and is part of 4 X 4, a group of visual artists and poets. She is the Summer Writing Series Coordinator for The Stanley Kunitz Boyhood Home. Her poetry has been published widely and translated into Braille and Mandarin and been nominated for seven Pushcart Prizes. Publications include two chapbooks: Farmwife, the winner of the William and Kingman Page Poetry Book Award, and Earth published by Cat Rock Press. WordTech published Legacy of the Last World in 2016. Aldrich Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, published Bone Circle, in December 2018. Kelsay Books will publish Thira, a new collection based on ancient Minoan culture, in March, 2020.


For beauty,
cordon the surface off,
stretch taut string
onto lime plaster skim.
On damp fullness, inscribe
sinopia lion, antelope, lily.

Let Mother define
your palette—
lapis, malachite, bistre,
giallorino, and ochre.
Pulverize scoria;
let bone white grant
open space, rest.

Dip brush in pigment
mixed with rain,
Let tint seep in
like sunrise dyes cloud,
or the scent of grapes
steeps in still air

and when your hand
tires, and light fades,
put the tools
of your craft away.

Know roar, leap, blossom.


Yes, I remember.
His hand brushed my arm
in passing,
and after,
I sought signs—heat
a reddening—
but there were none.

Inside my body, sunlight began
and each time I saw him
in a grove of olives
or walking into the sea,
would will him to me,
invoke the Mother’s
great embrace, summon
trees, waves, grasses
to bring him close

and when he came,
I feigned innocence, cast
my eyes down, strode
toward the marketplace
until he caught my hand
and I, done with play,
matched his gaze,


Oh, but there is good in this—
sun lifts at earth’s edge
as night sinks roots
beneath olive trunks, and sky
swathes the blanched shell moon
in light, takes on day.

He rises from long shadow,
shades dark eyes, casts
weighted net into waves,
into light, openwork
falling through sky and sea.
Woven lines, sinking deep,

honeycomb sand, lie against
spent diatom’s glimmer,
shroud seagrass. Between
net and surface, red mullet,
dusky perch, blennies glide,
until cinched, the sides

pull tight and he hauls the catch,
shimmering, onto land.
By high sun, he links
silver gills, wide mouths,
and hefts fish, ready for market,
to his side.

Waking from love

sea calls
                    to sea
and out of dream

we fall
                    into dark,
walk wave’s wake,
heartbeats of light
                    beneath our feet
and we dance
where water and earth
a place without name,
the long breath
                    between sea and land,
dark and dawn
Mother’s sweet green water,
holds out
                    strong arms, and we
float among stars.

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Poetry in this post: © Susan Roney-O’Brien
Published with the permission of Susan Roney-O’Brien