Lacunae, by Susanna Lang

In the middle of the Andante
the second violinist finds a page missing, a silence
where just this morning the notes still danced;

and where trees once climbed beside the Stillaguamish River,
last week the hills collapsed into a pile of mud and bones,
a terrible sifting. There is open sea

where icebergs were, holes where roads were, an echo
where someone’s furniture had been carefully arranged
to make the most of the small room. A weedy patch

where the ash tree stood before the city cut it down,
even its trunk removed to prevent disease from spreading.
Weeks, months lost after an injury, the body waiting

to be more than a body, more than broken machinery.
Gaps between what one says and the other hears, the gap
where a child knocked out a tooth at recess, gaps between stars—

not empty but filled with dark matter that shows up in the astronomers’
images as brightness: as if everything could be seen,
as if there were no such thing as empty space.

***

About “Lacunae”: “I wrote ‘Lacunae’ in the spring of 2014, a time when I was painfully aware of the brokenness of things.  I had had what my surgeon called a ‘catastrophic’ break in my right arm, and I had not regained my range of motion.  The same ice that tripped me up had also cratered our city’s streets, and the news was full of larger catastrophes—mudslides, melting glaciers.  The poem is built out of these deficits, along with other, smaller losses and my struggle as a lay person to understand new discoveries about the universe.   Poetry got me through this difficult time: when I couldn’t sleep, I read and wrote, trying to sew up the torn parts of my world.”

Susanna Lang’s most recent collection of poems, Tracing the Lines, was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press.  Her first collection, Even Now, was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press, and a chapbook, Two by Two, was released in October 2011 from Finishing Line Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Green Mountains Review, The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, and Jubilat.  Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy.  She lives in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.

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