Susan Terris

Winner of the George Bogin Memorial Award in 2003


Old Girl: Self-Portrait in Wool



In magnetic air, my self or shadows of it,
the body a ballast for the head,
as I, red mask dragging an afghan body,
knit a new face from cosmic wool.

A three-dimensional life is formed by attitude.


Others want what I have, so I must sheer
invisible sheep, comb and card
the fleece, twist the thread, ply needles,
then teach them how to do the same.

All done with mist and a mirror or two.


Still, they can't expect to touch flesh.
This wool is thin, soft but without affect
and, its anxious thread tugged by
an unseen hook, keeps on unravelling.
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Sonia Sanchez on Susan Terris

In this poet's work can be found a world of encounters between the ordinary and the extraordinary. In all of these poems, the figure of Old Girl lives a "three-dimensional life" infused with sensuality and in conversation with nature. In "Old Girl Considers Life Without Rapture," she asks, "Why has the path by the river,/the one that leads up the mountain/ been replaced by a blacktop road/where noise and commerce strike the heart?" In "Old Girl Contemplates the Universe," she peers into "Rivers of black beginning and ending no where," and "unbroken darkness" beneath tectonic plates and ice, and in "Old Girl: Self-Portrait in Wool" the universe of the poems continues to expand with a description of Old Girl's face, "knitted from "cosmic wool": "This wool is thin, soft but without affect/and, its anxious thread tugged by/an unseen hook, keeps on unraveling." In these poems one finds a humility, an awe in surroundings, a relishing of the spirit, an eschewing of things. This poetry strives to retain an old memory of self and the world.

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