Susan Waters

Susan Waters

Susan Waters started out as a journalist covering hard news in upstate New York and for 13 years was a magazine editor and writer at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary. Her publishing credits are extensive. She has won 10 prizes in poetry and has been nominated twice for the Push Cart Prize in Poetry. Her chapbook Heat Lightning was published in 2017 by Orchard Street Press. Currently, she is Professor Emeritus at New Mexico Junior College.


It barely seems right to frame words
around the days when we, yes,
you and me Shibata, let Venice rise
from its disrepair by opening the window
of the gaudy pink room
and lapping against each other,
as the canal did the city’s ancient walls.
It seems wrong

to count the four days we fasted
because of sadness, because you,
a Communist, would not travel
to America in 1971 and I felt I had to.

It was your beauty that made me want
to starve at eighteen,
the way your eyes half closed,
like a sigh knows a secret
and gives it up partially through sound
but still keeps it hidden.

It seems right to recover,
like an archaeologist
picking through what remains,
the way your hand touched my stomach,
salty from the Italian coast town
where we swam until we stung.
You touched your fingers to your lips
and I knew what we were was ancient,
had to do with the earth’s crust, the sea,

but the reedy way our sadness nodded
made us obey the day’s emotion, not elements.

Poetry in this post: © Susan Waters
Published with the permission of Susan Waters