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Best Famous Susan Rich Poems

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by Susan Rich |

A Poem for Will Baking

 Each night he stands before

the kitchen island, begins again

from scratch: chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg,

he beats, he folds;

keeps faith in what happens

when you combine known quantities,

bake twelve minutes at a certain heat.

The other rabbis, the scholars,

teenagers idling by the beach,

they receive his offerings,

in the early hours, share his grief.

It’s enough now, they say.

Each day more baked goods to friends,

and friends of friends, even

the neighborhood cops. He can’t stop,

holds on to the rhythmic opening

and closing of the oven,

the timer’s expectant ring.

I was just baking, he says if

someone comes by. Again and again,

evenings winter into spring,

he creates the most fragile

of confections: madelines

and pinwheels, pomegranate crisps

and blue florentines;

each crumb to reincarnate

a woman – a savoring

of what the living once could bring.


by Susan Rich |

For Sale

 Xhosa women in clothes too light

for the weather have brought wild flowers

and sit sloped along the Claremont road.

I see her through rolled windows,

watch her watch me to decide if I’ll pay.

It’s South Africa, after all, after apartheid;

but we’re still idling here, my car to her curb,

my automatic locks to her inadequate wage.


by Susan Rich |

Lost By Way of Tchin-Tabarden

 Republic of Niger

Nomads are said to know their way by an exact spot in the sky,

the touch of sand to their fingers, granules on the tongue.

But sometimes a system breaks down. I witness a shift of light,

study the irregular shadings of dunes. Why am I traveling

this road to Zinder, where really there is no road? No service station

at this check point, just one commercant hawking Fanta

in gangrene hues. C'est formidable! he gestures --- staring ahead

over a pyramid of foreign orange juice.

In the desert life is distilled to an angle of wind, camel droppings,

salted food. How long has this man been here, how long

can I stay contemplating a route home?

It's so easy to get lost and disappear, die of thirst and longing

as the Sultan's three wives did last year. Found in their Mercedes,

the chauffeur at the wheel, how did they fail to return home

to Ágadez, retrace a landscape they'd always believed?

No cross-streets, no broken yellow lines; I feel relief at the abandonment

of my own geography. I know there's no surveyor but want to imagine

the aerial map that will send me above flame trees, snaking

through knots of basalt. I'll mark the exact site for a lean-to

where the wind and dust travel easily along my skin,

and I'm no longer satiated by the scent of gasoline. I'll arrive there

out of balance, untaught; ready for something called home.