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ILYSE KUSNETZ

 

Ilyse Kusnetz (1966-2016), poet, essayist, and journalist, is the author of Small Hours, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and The Gravity of Falling. Her book, Angel Bones,is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2019. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Orion Magazine, Rattle, Guernica Daily, Islands Magazine, and Crab Orchard Review, among others, as well as in anthologies including The Room and the World; The Book of Scented Things; Devouring the Green: Fear of a Transhuman Planet; and Monstrous Verse: Angels, Demons, Vampires, Ghosts, and Fabulous Beasts. She also guest-edited Scottish poetry features for Poetry International and the Atlanta Review. Kusnetz taught at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, where she lived with her husband, Brian Turner. Ilyse and Brian recently collaborated on a poetic text called "Vox Humana" which premiered with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra.

 

 

Sea Stories

 

 

Sanderlings rush at the receding surf,

only to turn and flee its bubbling nets.

 

I track your prints across the beach

by the elfish snag your big toe leaves,

 

and wonder at the perfect Hebrew letters

imprinted on a green crab’s back,

 

as if even crustaceans believed in

Pascal’s wager. Half-buried below

 

the sand shelf, a shard of junonia,

speckled like an antiquarian book.

 

It’s not as if a shell cupped to the ear

could translate that ancient language the wind

 

keeps whittling on the sea. And I can’t

explain to the plinth of your shadow,

 

how an excess of beauty changes

everything – so this whelk’s spindle might be

 

a calla lily, or a magician’s bouquet,

each flower plucked from its predecessor,

 

while this stoved-in conch you gave me

is a broken cornucopia, an offering

 

from yesterday’s high tide.

Only, what we take from each other

 

is beyond this, and nothing

the unchanged world can hear.

 

 

©2017 Ilyse Kusnetz

 

 

Author Links

 

Poetry at Ilyse Kusnetz's website

'The Secret Kiss' in Guernica

'Harbinger' in Rattle

 

 

 

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