Last spring, I walked with you to the lilac trees.
We took home contraband branches of shadow
and scent as if we were the finest magicians
conjuring perfumes from tiny blossoms
that the Victorian women planted
to mark the loss of a child or a miscarriage.
I choose not to love you and so the globes
remained just broken remnants of minerals,
skeletons leftover from the latest skirmish.
Please don’t ask me to explain the Dictionary
of Obscure Sorrows. I couldn’t if I wanted to
but I know there’s an entry here for me—
something about the long hallways of
dormitories once the students depart
or the afterhours drinking in amusement parks
where you catch the shellacked eye
of the carousel horse and nod hello.
I’ve always desired a different life than the one I am living.
It’s an invisible cloak I wear like a fog-lit figure
in a Bergman film or maybe I’m more like the goat’s
cello in the off-center village of a Chagall painting
that tells me with blue certainty, you’re not alone.
SUSAN RICH is the author of seven books: Gallery of Postcards and Maps: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry) and Demystifying the Manuscript: Essays and Interviews on Creating a Book of Poems (with Kelli Russell Agodon, Two Sylvias Press) are her most recent books as well as Cloud Pharmacy, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, Cures Include Travel and The Cartographer’s Tongue /Poems of the World (White Pine Press). Her poems have garnered awards from the Fulbright Foundation, PEN USA, and the Times Literary Supplement (London). Individual poems appear in Harvard Review, New England Review, O Magazine and Poetry Ireland Review among other places. Rich’s new collection, Blue Atlas, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. She is the director of Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women. Visit her at http://poetsusanrich.com