“Ultima Thule,” by Susan Rich

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Poetry by Susan Rich from our Spring 2017 issue.

In this dark moment, the largeness
of which I’d like to deny, we settle

arguments with silence, we divide the terra-cotta
soldiers one eyeball at a time. Nothing says good-bye

like these derelict bodies, the war-torn terraces
of fatigues, the fireproof boots now abandoned.

It wasn’t enough protection, not nearly enough dirt
to disguise decade-long disagreements. On the doorstep

I keep a broken light bulb to remind me of you. Room
for all the almosts and never to bes. Like Miss Drew,

I play private eye, returning to pissed-on alleys and no-frills
bars that serve only laughing water and moonlight,

not necessarily in that order. Sometimes I watch you
stumble like a ghost husband along the dance floor

or wave as you exit the parking lot, your dilapidated pick-up,
your tattered cap tacked backwards, your rough fibers

of daydreams fracturing in the corn fields
like so many coins of light along the plains.

Image: Gurr, Lena. “Moonlight.” N.d. Color woodcut and stencil on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

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