Susan Terris

from Dream Fragments

An old-fashioned country store with merchandise in open barrels and jars of striped candy on the counter. I'm wearing a yellow tunic and have forgotten to put on the footless black/yellow tights that go with it. But I'm early, and you're late. As I wonder if I should go back for the tights, you saunter in and offer me a water lily. "We won't be needing them," you say. "But you must remember, the lily—like the two of us—always closes at night…

In the wind, acorns drop like buckshot on the roof of my one-room wood cabin. A frantic squirrel or maybe two scramble overhead, as some stranger rows an old dory across the bay toward the boulders below. I am hoping that this stranger might be you…

A hat factory and we are making red ones with writing on them. The Mad Hatter, trailed by the Cheshire Cat, is walking up and down the aisles. We have no idea why we're here or if we're being paid. "Futterwacken," says the Hatter. From behind bales of felt, you mimic the voice of the cat. "Tis brillig," you say, "and we're all mad here…"

The clatter of wheels lulls us as the train we're on takes a curve then follows a straight track. Then another curve. There's a semaphore and a bridge which lights up and a small station where we do not stop. "Where are we going?" I ask. The semaphore again, the bridge, the station, another curve, another. "Nowhere and everywhere," you say. "This is our own particular Eternity."



Susan Terris’ recent books are Familiar Tense (Marsh Hawk) 2019; Take Two: Film Studies (Omnidawn) 2017, Memos (Omnidawn) 2015; and Ghost of Yesterday: New & Selected Poems (Marsh Hawk) 2012. She's the author of 7 books of poetry, 17 chapbooks, 3 artist's books, and one play. Journals include The Southern Review, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Diode, and Ploughshares. A poem of hers appeared in Pushcart Prize XXXI. A poem from Memos was in Best American Poetry 2015. Ms. Terris is editor emerita of Spillway Magazine and a poetry editor at Pedestal. The four prose poems here will be published by Swan Scythe Press in Dream Fragments, which just won its 2019 Chapbook Prize.