Susan C. Waters


Fog rises tonight. All breath levitates:
from every hill, valley and all
the rivers, winding and plowing
through the dark night.

In Ohio even the breath of an old man
lifts from his shell,
with as much ease as it did when
he was a Coshocton country boy
at the turn of the century.

In a winter photograph
the laboring breath of Ross
and the other workers hung
above them. The horses, “Hungry”
and “Stubborn,” made great clouds;
their legs are blurred because
they are stamping their feet.

Behind them is the snow sled
and a thick dark stack of wood
which will rear through a chimney
and out to a cloud as it burns.

Ohio. Turn of the century is as many
miles from here as someone else’s past:
impenetrable as a thicket.
The fog is so thick tonight
it could be a ladder.

Each breath is offered up
the old man, his father, his twin,
his mother, just as all of those
before him rose, were tithed.


Susan C. Waters is a graduate of the writing program at George Mason University.  Currently, she is Professor of English at New Mexico Junior College. She teaches composition and literature survey courses.  Additionally, she teaches world literature. Susan started out as a journalist covering hard news in upstate New York and for 13 years was a magazine editor and writer at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary.  Her publishing credits are extensive, ranging from the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the U.S. House of Representatives.  Susan has won six prizes in poetry, including the Mary Roberts Reinhart Prize, George Mason University.  She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.