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First, you must know

you are structure, unfinished.

A window without glass,

a room of shifting walls.

Wind, rain, snow melting on rough

planks of wood, all knots and warp.


The physiatrist who looked at my xrays

and bent in close to mutter in a low

voice, “you are not hinged correctly”.

She meant my shoulders, perhaps.


Look up at the width of tree limbs

holding rooms of memory, a giant oak

seems trustworthy. There is a door, of course,

one in every tree story. Walk through and see.

Breathe now. Of course, you know that

this is home.



Suggestions for Survival


Own no long mirrors. Nothing with the number
thirteen. Fold up ladders tight as a heart.
No red paint. Chicken bones, once wished on,

should be buried in the yard seven feet
from the back steps. Burn sage when the moon
is full. Keep your windows locked.


Unplug everything. Fold up bags so they

stay empty. Give the trees thanks before
and after storms for not falling. Leave
small gifts in the yard, saucers of honey
and milk. Add tea leaves that settle like
memories in the cup to your plants. Take


your coffee black and sweet as dreams. Own

nothing that says it has no secrets. Put

someone else’s name on your diary. Have

a dog that barks and a kettle that whistles. Place

scissors and knives carefully in drawers after

the shades are drawn. Books rest face up,


magazines face down. On top of the china
closet, set a thick fern as shelter. Close

doors to empty rooms. Sprinkle the top

of door frames with the ashes of old poems.

Keep boots by the door, ever ready.

Susan Moorhead writes poetry and stories in New York.  Her work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies. Nominated multiple times for a Pushcart prize, her poetry collections are, The Night Ghost and Carry Darkness, Carry Light. Daytimes find her working as a librarian where she is happy to be surrounded by books.

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