Suzanne Rogier Marshall

Clear Cut

Once woods,
this hillside scoured, scraped,
furrowed with chain-laced skidder tracks—
brown scars in ashen snow

stubbled with stumps, bramble, alder,
the only green—feathery sprays of hemlock
too small to cut

littered with granite boulders, fallen snags,
sawdust, a stone wall spine,
woodchips, torn limbs
and tops of trees tossed into brush piles,
gray ghost-leaves shivering in a winter breeze

gutted, like a carcass picked over by crows,
hollow space beneath the ribs,
heart removed.

 

Release

From a single point, particles explode—
seeds of stars, planets, moons hurled into the dark.

Mount St. Helens, Vesuvius, Fuji.
Earth’s heart erupts, spews layer on layer,
lava and ash. Cinder to glass. The inner
now outer crust.

A steady stream of drugs cools my father’s molten rage,
dementia slipping into sleep.
His bony fingers grasp my hand.
Won’t let go.

The oak holds its leaves through November.
Yellow turns to brown. Then, a windless day—
the leaves just fall,
turn over and over, drift
through gray.

No more tubes or oxygen mask. His last gasp.

Wings unhinged, a hundred doves burst
from a wicker basket. Clamor for flight, for light.

I didn’t cry at my father’s funeral.
Months later, snowmelt off the mountain,
I cannot stop.

Summers ago, a shutter opened, captured a moment:
Dad in his buffalo plaid holding a fish.
Now, only the buffalo plaid exists.
My son wears it in his garden.

Witch hazel, gorse, touch-me-not.
Along a seam of vulnerability, pods split,
fling seeds at the sky.

Long time-lapse at night, my camera traces
trails of stars—circles coursing outward
from a single point.

 

Vernal Pool

The spring peeper’s song rises, shivers like sleigh bells.
       Wood frogs gabble-clatter, gabble-clatter. Then silence
              as we near. Hidden beneath alder and winterberry

a pool quivers with the disappearance of frogs.
       Speckled egg masses cling to twigs. Waving a stick, my son
              stirs snowmelt, sodden oak leaves, muck. A dark world

tea-stained, full of startled life—three-tailed nymphs, scuds,
       water scorpions darting through decay. He plunges
              his hands into icy water. Fairy shrimp, translucent ghosts

slip through his fingers. I crouch beside him
       as he splashes again and again, laughing at the tickle
              of tails wriggling away. Water, mud, sunlight splatter

everywhere. And even as I watch, I feel this moment
       shimmer through my fingers, like fairy shrimp—
              no more than a flutter.

Author Portrait

Suzanne Rogier Marshall, a former middle school English teacher, has published professional articles and a book on teaching poetry. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in U.S.1 Worksheets, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Smoky Quartz, Tule Review, Freshwater, and other journals and anthologies. Her first chapbook Blood Knot was published by Porkbelly Press in June 2015. After teaching for thirty-five years, Suzanne retired to New Hampshire. When she’s not writing poetry, you might find her hiking mountain trails with her husband, tracking bobcat, or swinging her tai chi sword.