Susan Rich is the author of four poetry collections including Cloud Pharmacy, a runner-up for the Julie Suk Award, and The Alchemist’s Kitchen, named a finalist for the Foreword Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Her other books include Cures Include Travel and The Cartographer’s Tongue, winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry and the Peace Corps Writers Award. She is a recipient of fellowships and awards from Artists Trust, the Fulbright Foundation, and The Times Literary Supplement of London. Rich’s poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, New England Review, and World Literature Today.
She rescues all the torn and broken
remnants of the alphabet, the hand-
painted illustrations and offers them
new lives. Balancing the accordion
folds, she designs a blue horizon
from the resistance of their spines
and builds book mothers, book houses,
book roads. Towers of trashed pages
arrive from the front imbedded with
blood and hair, or sometimes
scarfskin from a finger falls off the giant
book egg now on view in the city square.
Soon the foreign tourists multiply
rolling their digital boxes to shoot
or text, to podcast on the ground
to their five thousand friends.
Should they compose a montage
or a song? The sculptor, who has
known the shock and awe, melts down
her small gold leaf and salvages
the tired words like emigrate and breathe.