‘The First Rule’ and other poems by Susan Millar DuMars


The blood has stopped
and with it the need
to suckle lesser creatures.
My breasts are pale, cool
and mine.
The blood has stopped
and with it the need
to shield smaller souls
inside me.
My womb calm.
Not weeping.
And it’s my womb.
I’m learning the pleasure
of empty.
The weight of one.
Nothing on my back
but a breeze
getting colder.
The blood has stopped
and with it the need
to grow anything
but older.

The First Rule

Will I show you what to do
with a naked woman?
You can
lie on top of her
feel her yield
taste her salt
ride her undulations
know her to be ocean
almost drown
leave her
the wind again her breath
the tide again her muscles
the rocks again her bones.
This is a naked woman.
Rain fed
pulsing soft.
Respect, sailor,
is the first rule of the sea.

Baby Makes Me Watch

His features a pattern of cracks in a mirror.
My eyes give up my own reflection
to trace, retrace the hairline breaks.
I’m on my back and the door is a cloud.
I try but I can’t reach it.
Baby says I’m his shining comet
and I have all his faith.
Baby says I force him
to tell secrets he’d rather forget.
Baby makes me watch.
The door’s a cloud – I’m cold.
Baby makes sure I know
this is all my fault.
Baby, you have to let me go.
Baby makes me watch.

Night Woods

after Ted Hughes
My path was direct
through the bones of the murdered,
the maimed; I nest among remains.
Meditation, prayer are no use here.
All my questions go unanswered
except by the blip of blood-fear, the scream
of collared kill, carried above trees
by the hawk. And it laughs as it dives,
laughs, for the pleasure of swooping,
the pleasure of choosing,
the heat that escapes as it pierces the creature.
For the meat. This is its nature.
I, the hawk’s witness. This is my nature.
The First Rule & other poems are © Susan Millar DuMars

Susan Millar DuMars has published four poetry collections with Salmon Poetry, the most recent of which, Bone Fire, appeared in April, 2016. She also published a book of short stories, Lights in the Distance, with Doire Press in 2010. Her work has appeared in publications in the US and Europe and in several anthologies, including The Best of Irish Poetry 2010. She has read from her work in the US, Europe and Australia. Born in Philadelphia, Susan lives in Galway, Ireland, where she and her husband Kevin Higgins have coordinated the Over the Edge readings series since 2003. She is the editor of the 2013 anthology Over the Edge: The First Ten Years.

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