In the twilight, I lie against
my father’s chest, breathe smells
of peppermints and sweat.
The chair creaks as we rock back and forth.
Over his shoulder, I see wicker
patterned with black squares.
He sings of sentimental journeys,
bids blackbirds bye-bye. I lean my head
against his ribs, feel their thrum,
hear the drumbeat of his heart,
know I am sheltered, safe
swathed in my father’s arms.
‘Shield’ was published in Susan’s fourth collection, Cloak (Kelsay Press, 2019)
I am three years old.
Outside the house, the old magnolia tree
stretches high into the sky.
Foot on branch,
hand over hand
I climb up toward the clouds,
believe that I can fly,
breathe in the thick perfume
of floating waxy blooms.
From the second floor window
my father looks out,
sees my reckless grin,
blanches, races downstairs,
stands there tall between the roots.
I know he’ll always catch me
if I fall.
‘Net’ was published in Susan’s third collection, The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, (Kelsay Books, 2018)
Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London. She has published four collections of poems: The Candlewoman’s Trade, 2003; Abiding Chemistry, 2015; The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, 2018; and Cloak (2019). Her poetry has appeared in leading journals and anthologies in the UK, the US, South Africa, Mexico, and Luxembourg. Her poem ‘Bird of God’ won first place in the 2018 Pre-Raphaelite Society Competition.