In the Novel

By Susan Stewart b. 1952 Susan Stewart
He described her mouth as full of ashes.   
So when he kissed her finally   
he was thinking about ashes

and the blacker rim just below   
the edge of the ashtray,
and the faint dark rim that outlined her lips,

and the lips themselves, at the limit   
of another darkness, farther   
and far more interior.

Then the way the red,
paling, just outside those lines   
caught fire and the pages caught

soon after that. Slowly at first,   
but then all at once
at the scalloped brown corners of each;

like the ruff of an offended and darkening bird,   
extended, then folded
in on itself; multiple,

stiffening, gone.

Susan Stewart, “In the Novel” from The Hive. Copyright © 1987 by Susan Stewart. Reprinted with the permission of The University of Georgia Press.

Source: The Hive (University of Georgia Press, 1987)

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Poet Susan Stewart b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Love, Men & Women, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Susan  Stewart


In an interview at the University of Pennsylvania, Susan Stewart said that her primary goal as a poet is “to get people to read more slowly, and to reread, and to read a whole book and go back to the beginning of the book and see connections.” Her writing can be startlingly clear, while at the same time—in the words of the MacArthur Foundation, on the occasion of presenting her with a “Genius Award”—it makes “strange and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Love, Men & Women, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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