Brief Catalogue of the Fading X | Susan Rich

Brief Catalogue of the Fading X | Susan Rich

The way he touched his beard, or laced his shoes;
the fashion sense he boasted, or couldn’t claim;

bottom lip protruded towards a lopsided grin, a snarl.
I couldn’t know the inside of his head,

the universe of dark holes

or his eyebrows, two notes of curdled cream.
We lived in the desert—

there were millet fields; there were arguments
over dictionaries – each language

its own ruin. I would look again

and again over the awl of him or I would avert my eyes
until we found a way to place ourselves

slotted in the unmarked spin of solar systems.

Now there’s just a sequence of vanishings
no satellite or spaceship could reclaim.

Both surveyor and surveyed
I study celestial maps for the hours I cannot erase;

compass points for the needles of my days.


Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry including Cloud Pharmacy and The Alchemist’s Kitchen, which was a Finalist for the Foreword Prize and the Washington State Book Award. Along with Brian Turner, she edited The Strangest of Theatres, published by the Poetry Foundation. Her recent publications include the Antioch Review, Gettysburg Review, New England Review and World Literature Today. She has received awards from PEN USA, The Times (London) the Fulbright Foundation and the city of Seattle, WA.