Susan Cohen: "Valentine"




     My body, …


     it is not the earth I will miss,

     it is you I will miss.

          —Louise Gluck, “Crossroads”


I say good riddance to my body,

its conspiracy of veins

and bowels and vertebrae.

I can trust a deer to pick its way

through trees, a daffodil

to bully its way through frost. Once,

I saw the silhouette of a baby seal

held inside the translucence of a wave

like a portrait in a locket. How quartz

threads through rock, and a heron

threads through air then lands

and stills to a piece of quartz.

The way even weeds flower. Just now

the dullest brown bird appeared,

clumsy at our feeder, and picked

at soggy seed. I watched the quiver

of its tail while it fed its hunger.

Need I say, bodies must be fed?

I say the earth is the body I will miss.

Even if I could only touch it dis-

embodied, send a shiver

down the outstretched limb

of a single eucalyptus.

Even if I could touch down only

in the linear brittle body

of a dragonfly, one evening,

some rank bog.



Susan Cohen is the author of Throat Singing  (Cherry Grove Collections; 2012).  She recently won the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, the Anderbo Poetry Prize, and an Atlanta Review International Publication Prizeamong other honors.  Her poems appeared or are forthcoming in Greensboro Review, Nimrod, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review, Southern Poetry Review and other journals, as well as in anthologies from Salmon Poetry, Scarlet Tanager Books, and City Works Press.