May 13, 2021

“My Sister,” Poems by Susan J. Wurtzburg

“My Sister,” Poems by Susan J. Wurtzburg
My Sister 

My sister enacts meal provider, family clustered 
       around the table. 
Sustenance for body and heart, hollowed  
       out by this year. 
Muffled emptiness behind my ribs muted 
       by video calls. 
Strands across the Pacific from my island 
       to her wooded home. 
My sibling draws me back to Canada, closed 
       pine borders.  
Each call a step closer, but still stranded 
       on a rock in the ocean. 

The Toad 

Heavy rains, another toad in the garden, poison 
    to my dog. 
Buffo catching, my new pastime, followed 
    by a marsh trip. 
Bye Mr. Toad. No whimsical talking character, 
    Wind in the Willows cute. 
Instead a mammoth, warty body, with venom 
    sacs behind his ears. 
Toad number seven in a lineage, a hopping 
    invading force. 
Beady eyes, fire-plug body, strong jumping legs, 
    garden bane in Hawaii. 
Islands replete with outsiders: frogs, rats, goats, 
    even tourists. 
If the toads arrived with cash would they be more  

absence of mind 

eyes fixed on the wall as I empty my mind 
release the words   count breaths silently 
count one   count two   count three 
air in my nose, down the throat, into the belly 
exhalation toward the wall   the white blank wall 
count one   count two   count three 
bird song bounces into the room   waves in my head 
sound flow   no story   quiet   still 
count one   count two   count three 
clouds cross the sun   alter light   pupils expand 
body changes   avoid the prompt peace 
count one   count two   count three 
crossed ankles ache   blood flow compressed  
stillness prevails   rise above the physique. 
count one   count two   count three 
bell chime softly sounds   ears register 
limbs unfurl   lips curve   deep lungful of air 
back to the world   words return  


Thirty-three Years 
Our anniversary is here, at the onset of 2021, 
       good start to a more auspicious year. 
Some wondered if we would stay together, 
       concerned about my four months in Mexico. 
Archaeology seemed an abrupt change after 
       slicing the wedding cake with a machete. 
But we do fine with absences, each of us  
       with careers necessitating fieldwork. 
Both retired now, writing down the hall 
       from each other, no distance. 
Clicking of keyboards, a background hum 
       to love, laughter and good food. 
I chose a cook, excellent advance planning 
       for a months-long pandemic. 


Swallowtail in Bougainvillea 
A glance out the window toward a butterfly pulsing its wings 
  in front of purple bougainvillea vine. 
The Asian Swallowtail, like me, a recent migrant to Hawaii, 
  but more beautiful with its dusty yellow persona. 
Another non-native, Bougainvillea grows uninhibited here, 
  prolific vine tendrils tower twenty feet high. 
The climbing plant sends exploratory shoots to my neighbors, 
  isolated like me, in a pandemic. 


My Sister

Susan J. Wurtzburg is a retired academic, and lives in Hawai‘i. She writes and runs her editing business (Sandy Dog Books LLC), in between water sports, family hiking, and socializing online, while she waits for the pandemic to diminish. Susan’s poetry has appeared in the Hawai‘i Pacific ReviewThe Literary NestPoetry and CovidQuince Magazine, and the Rat’s Ass Review. She is a member of the Rat’s Ass Review Workshop. 

My Sister
#hawaii#my sister#poetry#susan j. wurtzburg

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