One Poem by Susanna Lang

One Poem by Susanna Lang

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Call and Response

We have forgotten how to listen.
— Patti Smith

Nothing is still, not light
or leaf or the sharp-edged

shadows of leaves. Never
birds, who ask and answer

and having forgotten, ask
again. I’m re-learning,

restless like the horn I heard
a man playing months ago

from the top of a child’s slide.
He marked the beat on a rail

while the freight train entered
from the south, bass solo,

and a spindle-legged girl
turned a cartwheel below.

In this meadow along the forest’s
thin edge, someone

has built a nest box for bluebirds
who can no longer find

a natural cavity—but instead
swallows find their way in,

whistling and gurgling
from their ready-made perch.




Susanna LangSusanna Lang’s most recent collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, is forthcoming from Terrapin Books. Her last collection was Tracing the Lines (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013). A two-time Hambidge fellow, her poems have appeared in such journals as Little Star, Prairie Schooner, december, Prime Number Magazine, and Poetry East. Her translations of poetry by Yves Bonnefoy include Words in Stone and The Origin of Language. Among her current projects is Self-Portraits, a chapbook collection of ekphrastic poems focused on women across the arts. She lives in Chicago, and teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.
Read poetry by Susanna Lang previously published in Terrain.org.

Photo of swallows by Kanenori, courtesy Pixabay.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.