“Church” by Susan Austin
I leave the mountains to their business
and the weather. Heartache
does not soften me; it makes me
mad for fossiled canyons. I lie down
in sweet sage and let the earth
hold the ache awhile.
Fierce competitor, piety. A map
that loved a mountain.
I tell you—every day,
in every season, wearing every coat
ever owned, giving in to disbelief.
A dry wind blows inside my legs
and heavy heavy the hollowness.
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Susan Austin’s Artist Statement:
Susan Austin lives in the Teton foothills in Felt, Idaho, but she calls the ocean her first home
where she grew up mucking in Chesapeake mud. She was a Michener Fellow at University of
Texas in Austin. She worked as a wildlife biologist on endangered species projects from the
Northwest Hawaiian Islands to the Snake River of Idaho. She built her one room house with her
husband out of salvaged materials. Now she is building a new life out of salvage following a
chronic illness. Words abandoned her for a time, but as they returned they returned spirited, full
of the wildness she loves so much in nature.