Because we’ve seen this before: this thug season loosens its grip on our throat. Let’s us go. Here’s one for the changing light. And one for what’s encoded in those ice encrusted twigs. The buds to be. And soon more of those mishap warm days. I love how Susan Blackwell Ramsey’s poem captures all of this–that the genetic coding in what seems errors, might just be luck. Her poem below is featured in the Marlboro Review. This first line had me in its sonic grip. And I love the internal rhyme of this piece, the pacing of it. And the verbs: “ferns” and “bitchslapped” in the same poem? “Blizzard babies”? Nice. Remember, shiverers. What begins with sidewalk ice will end with love.


Sidewalk ice so thin frost ferns its surface,
cat-ice. February sheathes claws to let us think
we might escape. It’s toying with us. Wind
that bitchslapped me last week today plays with my hair.
On bare twigs house finches are improvising riffs
no female finch with any sense will heed.
The bird that breeds now will hatch blizzard babies
which would die and take those fool genes with them.
Still, the angle of the sunlight prods,
the air is soft and what if they were right,
what if this is anomaly, an odd
but permanent early spring? Maybe those fledglings
would survive, mate and spread recessives for luck,
just the way others in my family tree
took the right boat, chose to leave Oklahoma,
went rollerskating a certain afternoon
in Detroit in nineteen forty two
so that when I looked up, there you’d be.

To read more of Susan Blackwell Ramsey’s work, visit her website. 

And buy her book, A Mind Like This, from Indiebound or The University of Nebraska Press.


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