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Between Us and the Slow Fall

November 14, 2011

by Susan Elbe

of light, hardly enough to see sparrows
in tattletale air, clouds
dirty as bootscuff and bundled with winter,
hail on the window,
a cold cant of pistol and steel.


Between us and the slow fall, the news
just keeps coming—red waves
of oil wash ashore at Biloxi
and pelicans sink in the muck,
honey bees die from colony collapse,
children flare up in the crosshairs,
so many too quick to forgive
our recklessness, greed,
our mistakes, the stellar wreck
we’ve made of this world.


But on the moon’s desert, there’s water
and lost dogs do return home.
To survive flood waters,
frogs hitch rides on snakes.
Song bursts open in shopping malls
and neglected art is found.
The sun grows stronger, its winter edge
carving cold panes into gold.
We still create myth, practice magic.


Between us and the slow fall, we live,
sometimes with grace,
sometimes without,
and in the elephant hour, the grey
skin of air before dawn,
I tell myself no more, no more
will I waste the big, soft-eared days.

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Susan Elbe (website) is the author of Eden in the Rearview Mirror (Word Press) and a chapbook, Light Made from Nothing (Parallel Press). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including Blackbird, diode, MARGIE, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Salt Hill, and A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-five Years of Women’s Poetry (Calyx Books). She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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  1. Lois P. Jones
    November 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    What an exquisite poem — in addition to gorgeous contrasts interplayed and woven we hurt for a world that lives inside us and creates its poetic dichotomy. An achievement of language and message that really touched this reader.

  2. November 15, 2011 at 3:50 am

    ‘ clouds
    dirty as bootscuff and bundled with winter’

    From there I was hooked, and it just got better. Every now and then, from much that is good, something really jumps out, catches at the throat and eyes, changes something inside. This is such a poem. Thanks.

  3. November 15, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Many thanks, Lois and Lucy. I’m so glad you like the poem–makes it all worthwhile.

  4. December 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    this is beautiful… it took me a little while to get into it, but I’m glad I kept reading. Deeply touching and significant

  1. November 19, 2011 at 10:40 am
  2. December 1, 2011 at 10:55 am
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