I first became familiar with the poetry of Susan Elbe through Kiss Me Goodnight (Syren Book Company) because we both had work in this anthology of writing by women who were girls when their mothers died. Her poems in that book are: “My Mother Isn’t Dead” and “At Mother’s Bedside.” Now we are Facebook friends, and I enjoy her posts whether they are updates on the eagles’ nest in Decorah, Iowa or more writerly items. This Father’s Day she posted “I Fly to My Father in Late August” and I fell for it, so enthralled that I asked Susan to share it here, and she graciously agreed.
I Fly to My Father in Late August
and sit with him in his backyard, cardinals dipping
in and out of the blue spruces. Lightning bugs—
more than I’ve seen since childhood—
begin to flip their luciferin on and off, tiny lamps
that signal night to rise up from the grass.
In the last knife-blade of sun,
our bodies like Ohio Blue Tips flare and ice cubes melt
in our gin-and-sour highballs that sweat
eclipsed moons on the concrete patio. He nods off
in a lawn chair, arms folded over
and chin resting on his chest, grown old it seems
so soon, just since this morning.
© Susan Elbe, Eden in the Rearview Mirror (Word Press, 2007). It is available at Amazon.
Susan was born and raised in Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and currently lives in Madison. She is retired from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and now does free-lance editing, writing, and workshops.
In addition to Eden in the Rearview Mirror (Word Press) and the chapbook, Light Made from Nothing (Parallel Press), a second chapbook, Where Good Swimmers Drown, is forthcoming from Concrete Wolf Press in Fall 2012. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary journals, including Ascent, Blackbird, Calyx, Crab Orchard Review, diode, MARGIE, Nimrod, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Smartish Pace, Valparaiso Poetry Review and on Verse Daily.
Susan also has work appearing or forthcoming in many anthologies, including A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poems, eds. Oliver de la Paz and Stacey Lynn Brown (The University of Akron Press), Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry, eds. Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy, e-book, (Two Sylvias Press), City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poems, ed. Ryan Van Cleave (University of Iowa Press), and A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-five Years of Women’s Poetry (Calyx Books).
Among her awards are the 2011 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Prize, the 7th Annual Oneiros Press Broadside Competition, The Poetry Center of Chicago’s 14th Annual Juried Reading (third place), the CALYX inaugural Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize, and the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Lorine Niedecker Award. She has received a Rowland Foundation residency to the Vermont Studio Center, a residency to the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and two residencies to Edenfred in Madison, Wisconsin sponsored by the Terry Family Foundation.
She, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Sara Parrell, and Katrin Talbot have collaborated with Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin to present the Bridge Poetry Series, twice yearly readings showcasing ekphrastic poems based on a museum exhibition. Susan has previously served on the Council for Wisconsin Writers Board of Directors and on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. Susan’s website is linked here.