[Lately when sorrows come]
Lately when sorrows come—fast, without warning—whipping their wings down the sky,I know to let them.Not inviting them, but allowing eachwith a deep breath as if inhaling a wish I can't undo.Some days the sky is so full of sorrowsthey could be mistaken for shadows of unnamedgods flapping the air with their loose black sleeves:the god of head-on collisions,the god of amputated limbs,the god of I'll-dress-you-in-mourning.Is the buzz in the August trees,that pulsing husk of repetition, an omen?I hear it build to a final shaking. I hear it buildlouder and louder, then nothing.Like a long, picaresque novel that's suddenly over.Like the last inning of kickball until the rain.What falls from the sky is not always rainor any kind of weather. Call it precipitous.I'm fooling myself, of course. Wearing sorrowis nothing like skin shedding water.It's more like the weight of a cloak of crows.And yet the sun still shines on the honey locustarching its fringe over grass. Lit, too,the pasture and its barbwire strung from postto leaning post. See how the stump by the roadis rotting and how the small yellow leaves, twirling,catch light on their way to the ground.
Copyright © 2019 by Ishmael Blue Meyers
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Susan Laughter (Law-ter) Meyers was the author of two collections of poems: My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass, the inaugural winner of the Cider Press Review Editors’ Prize, and Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press, 2006) which received the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. Her chapbook Lessons in Leaving (1998) won the Persephone Press Book Award. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, including The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crazyhorse, and jubilat, as well as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column. A long-time writing instructor with an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, Meyers taught poetry workshops and classes in area community programs. She was a past president of the Poetry Society of South Carolina and the North Carolina Poetry Society. Her awards included fellowships from the South Carolina Academy of Authors and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). Susan was a North Carolina native and a resident of Givhans, South Carolina, where she lived with her husband Blue until her unexpected death on June 25, 2017. Sales from her posthumous collection, Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà Vu, will help support the Susan Laughter Meyers Poetry Fellowship at Weymouth from the North Carolina Poetry Society and programs with the Poetry Society of South Carolina.
"Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà vu begins with the mysterious disappearance of Aunt M., who 'missing for years, didn’t drown herself in the river.' And we are urged to 'Listen, / her dead self / still rides these currents.' Has she lived a life in Paris as 'a glass harmonicist,' or is she at the bottom of a North Carolina river where her shoes were found? You will be, as I was, captivated by poems that examine the question, 'Who says our brief lives aren’t mere wishes?' You will be rewarded, as I was, by Susan Laughter Meyers’ lovely blend of Southern Gothic, priceless ekphrasis, and contemporary elegy."
—Tom Lombardo, Press 53 Poetry Series Editor and author of What Bends Us Blue
"What a gift to be able to spend an afternoon with Susan in the pages of Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà Vu. Here we plunge headfirst into the world she loves—of words, of all things nature, of a good mystery, of wit, darkness, and the complexities of her poet’s pen. She returns to the ordinary life of earlier work—goldfinches and crows, pluff mud and river beds—yet the images she creates and the stories she tells are anything but ordinary. Looking into the river of déjà vu, the poet sees not herself but the portraits of others—Aunt Mary Alice, Estelle, Milton, and others whose often eccentric lives weave through the collection. These superbly crafted poems are the wordsmith at her best, as poems are puzzles to be solved and words elicit magic and music. Every day, I miss Susan. Now, in this engaging collection, I can have her back, even if just for a little while, and remember her special embrace of the world: 'There are moments in my life / when gravitating toward feels the same / as ducking from. Moments when, / for recompense, I look back. Or up.'"
—Barbara Presnell, author of Blue Star
"I have never read a book of poetry quite like Susan Meyers' Self-Portrait in the River of Déjà Vu. The mode is lyrical and yet narrative—the poet speaking through remembered elders to create an ode to a beloved aunt who was the subject of much family lore. Almost a novel in verse, this is a tale of mystery and grief, intense with a music made of the simplest words and local idioms, but not without comic moments. Some poems are subtly formal, using contemporary methods of ekphrasis, collage, acrostic and anagram. Susan Meyers's quiet, masterful voice will live on in these marvelous poems for a long, long time."
—Richard Garcia, author of Porridge