Bound by the Laws of This World: 1968 – Susan Grimm

Blonde, blonde, blonde–there was a halo
melting around my head. Licking between
the chocolate wafers of an ice cream bar
in the lunchroom, I contemplated what Sister
had warned could be done with the tongue.
Listening, our faces had been smooth
as rain. But the smell of the earth
was thickening like incense. The swing
of the pleats brushed our thighs. We sensed
combustion, something breaking apart.
And the bars of the fire escape spelled
burn, reassembled, the iron steps leading
down from the deep lady blue of the sky.


At fifteen, some girls are already women
in the way they dispose their limbs. They can
make their uniforms look slutty; they would never
be called to be mother to God. Their bodies
curve and fret like horses, heads tossing,
long slender legs, beautiful glowing rumps
like continents in vastness, in mystery.


J.M.J.–I.N.R.I.–Not J.P. loves S.G.
Yes, Sister. I am a sister, too, a child
of God, a weak vessel, an unformed amphora
dried out in this sun, a tree rooted
in silence, sap curdling like phlegm
in my throat. Wand thin, I have
no magic. It’s night. The celery-sick
walls rise up around me, the glass
in the door winks, as if it were still
the Middle Ages, and only this thought,
only this celebration may be lit up.


Walking home from school, stopped
on the bridge above the river, legs angled,
arms braced on the rail, I’m an arrow looking up,
pointing at the eye of God, the clouds
brushed and gray like feathers. I’m not
interested anymore. The bridge, its triangles
hum behind me, under my feet. I’m waiting,
stretched, like that long piece of steel,
trembling, while everything else moves.

Susan GRIMM,
First published in LAKE ERIE BLUE,
BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Posted in Blog.

One Comment

  1. So pleased to find this poem. I’ve been restless recently, looking to find a poem that hauled me in out of my reality and gave me that “wow” feeling. This poem is that poem…beautifully formed and written, and yes, I also relate…

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