This wasn’t the earthquake

low angle shot of tree branches against purple sky with stars Photo by Ismael Jiménez Barcenas on

we’d been told to dread
and ready for—
instead it was five firemen
who slid our heavy bed
six inches to the left
to get purchase
on your falling
failing body

while I
sought purpose
in praying—
not to the god
I disbelieve in—
but to you:
(too soon
(too soon
(your one
(your wild
(your precious

and something shifted
in the tilting
off-kilter welter—
some gyroscope
spun, righted,
compassed your chilling
bore you back
wrenched you free
of a waiting earth

a tremor—
and nothing more

Susan G. Duncan is an independent consultant with a performing and visual arts clientele, capping a long career in arts administration. She served as executive director for San Francisco’s long-running Beach Blanket Babylon, the al fresco California Shakespeare Theater, and Grammy-winning ensemble Chanticleer. Her poetry appears in Atlanta Review, Crack the Spine, The London Reader, The MacGuffin, Soundings East, and Yalobusha Review, among others, and in anthologies by Sixteen Rivers Press and Red Claw Press.

Appears In

Issue 16

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