Susan Middleton works from her home in Ashfield, MA, editing books and articles primarily about science, nature, and biography. Her poems have appeared in, among others, The Berkshire Review, Peregrine, The Comstock Review, Sanctuary (Magazine of the Massachusetts Audubon Society), and the anthology 5-Minute Pieces (Arms Library, Shelburne Falls MA, 1998). In 1997 she won second prize in the Annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest (Franklin County MA). When not writing or editing, Susan tutors ESL students, leads hikes for the Appalachian Mountain Club, and roams the New England landscape for renewal and inspiration.
What if my skin is not my skin
and your skin not yours? The borders
we hold so sacred—if we knew they were
only on loan from all the empty places,
where we never think to look,
would we treat each other more
When I was slouching toward
twenty-one, certain of how the world was
and ought to be, a religion professor
pronounced in a gravelly voice,
Divinity is found in the Great Void.
I scoffed but wrote this in my notebook,
cramming it for the final exam.
Snake of stealth, it coiled in my dreams
and unopened closets long after
I tossed the notebook away.
Now on the verge,
I wonder: Are we the empty spaces,
the silence? Could I be the hollows
in your sculptured life, you the stillness
in my dance? And fitting us like a glove
turned inside out, is there some airy
nameless creature whose limbs reach into
every cul de sac not filled with body—
folding me against this apple tree,
riffling the cornstalks,
nudging my neighbor’s Herefords
to crowd the barnyard gate?
to be loved into being by nothing
much at all.
From SEED CASE OF THE HEART (Slate Roof Press, 2007)