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Open My Body

and let a river in me 

startle my heart’s pool

let my blood

flush the starlings

from its stark forest of bone

and enter the rough country

kneel down in the waters

where an animal crouches

snow-flecked and lithe

lowering its head to drink

trouble the gleaming surface

where nothing holds


Self-Portrait as Marshland

I mean last winter—
an illness settled in and wind
keened at the windows, licking
the glass. What the wind took:
             milkweed, nettles, twigs. All the leaves

she could carry. Then snow stretched
across the ice like a sterile bedsheet.
What it looks like to be leveled: each wound
a yawn stopped with cotton.
I watched the wind bend
             what she’d left behind.

When spring came, the river drew
the headwaters like a syringe, sucking
the marsh dry. What the river took:
             what the wind didn’t want.  


Susannah Nevison’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Ninth Letter, American Literary Review, Southern Indiana Review,and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2013 Academy of American Poets Larry Levis Prize and the 2013 American Literary Review Poetry Prize. Her first book, Teratology, winner of the 2014 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize, is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2015. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Utah and lives in Salt Lake City.