print this page go back one page    

Susan Steger Welsh: Two Poems

Instructions for Approaching an Ode | My Horoscope Says Love Is What You Make It

Instructions for Approaching an Ode

Enthusiasm is, in the nature of things, the very basis of the ode.
—Theodore Watts
1885 Encyclopedia Brittanica

Choose something ordinary, say
     a sock or your bathtub. Resist
wandering off on the vast

Oxfordian plain separating Ode, n.
          and Odious, a.
Chime the sound in your throat

— the O echo like brass bell, the D
a hand placed on the rim.
          Pick bathtub.

It's true, the bathtub of your enthusiasm —
     clawfoot and swoop, perpetual steam —
is not the bathtub of your actual possession.

Submerge yourself in the porcelain
cradle of your melancholy,
          all that swirls away.

Consider the sound scientists say
          is emanating from the black hole
          at the center of the Perseus cluster,

a colossal cosmic drain humming B flat,
57 octaves below middle C, the deepest

note ever detected in the universe,
     loud enough for the human ear
but far too low. Listen to what's audible:

your daughter playing Mendelssohn
     in the living room. The sad one you love.
Now begin.

My Horoscope Says
Love Is What You Make It

Valentine's Day and the paper is full
of advice on relationships: how to find
The One, how to Keep the Flame
Alive. And here's some news:
happy couples have as many disagreements
as divorcing couples. The difference,
it seems, is in the fighting,
the ability to rope off a neutral corner.
Pick anybody, the authors say,
what you're going to get
is roughly ten irreconcilable differences.
What he secretly thinks about her
family, what she thinks about his.
Those coats he leaves draped
on the backs of all the chairs.
Her stacks of books, the mail.
That tree growing between her lilies
and the sun. Whether professional wrestling
is funny. If you want to stay married
you must accept these ten things,
like commandments
written in stone. Embrace them.
Set a place of honor for them
at the table. Overlook their manners.
It's all right. Every couple has them.
If you switch partners,
you just get another list, and this one
has your children on it.

Poet's Biography:
poet's photo SUSAN STEGER WELSH is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board fellowship, a SASE/Jerome fellowship, and a Jerome Travel/Study grant. Her first poetry collection, Rafting on the Water Table, (New Rivers Press 2000) was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. She lives in a 95-year-old house with her husband and two children in St. Paul, where she works as a writer.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.