Susan A. Katz


Who could have known
The severed veins
Would ooze until only
Pale skin over paler
Bone remained.

I have no name
To call it by, this sense
That though I breathe
I die that though I touch
I do not feel.

I could say You
In a thousand ways, lover,
Loving, loved, anoint
Myself in the savage
Scent of you, prayer
Of your breath exhaling
My name.


Dust settled like a hymn
Over the memory of your eyes; dark
Deep as sorrow, blind
To passions I couldn't name
That came over me in waves
Of words I couldn't speak; we spoke
Like swords, each interchange
A clash of separate wills that spilled
A bit of blood, a splattering of tears.

Who pays the price for all the wounded
Years?  What happens to warriors when all
The wars are lost or won?  What is the cost
To heroes whose names become a lapse
Of memory on the tongue?  Who cares
For causes when banners lay
Forgotten in trampled mud.

What good are causes now time
Has emptied you to silence, filled me
With a thousand small regrets.
I could have held your face
Between my palms, stroked
Your eyelids as they closed
Against the light; I could have whispered
How scars would fade beneath
Sterile layers of night; I could
Have asked forgiveness and in return offered
Never to unlearn you, to sing you
Like a marching cadence through the hollow
Victory of the years.


She was a moth, skin gone
Dry, delicate wings breaking
The air moving
Nothing going

It was this
She had become when the storm
Of her years shattered what was left
Of memory into a million
Pieces, when all she had
was a tepid smile
To tempt a partner
To her side at Saturday
Senior Dances.

She loved to dance, loved
The ritual of soft chiffon,
Silk lacing her afternoons
With adolescent desire, shaking
Dust out of remnants
Of old dreams.

When they found her
Stale, limp as last night's
Corsage, they closed
The report tersely, "Obvious

As though anything
Was obvious passion
In the pasty smile when four
Young men came
To lead her in a last
Waltz, obviously cold
Flesh warmed
By the tenderness of any
One's touch.

Such girlish pleasure
In so many hands
Fumbling for a pulse, the turn,
The dip, the lift, the flare
The down beat, feet
Learning to dance
On air.

Susan A. Katz is the author of three poetry collections, The Separate Sides of Need,  Two Halves of the Same Silence, and An Eye for Resemblances. Her work has appeared in The American Scholar, Negative Capability, The Kansas Quarterly, Anthology of Magazine Verse and Yearbook of American Poetry,  When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple and numerous other literary magazines and anthologies. She lives and works out of her home in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut.



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