“Sleeping Under Snow” by Susan Austin
The gate is open
so do what you may.
All I ask:
leave what remains wild wild.
Be kind to the thistle.
Of all the lotus flowers raining
upon the Buddha that day,
all the bodhisattvas–
there must have been a weed or two.
I feel 10,000 years old.
I give back all your wars.
As for mine, it was futile
trying to out-swim a tsunami.
Virginia, I put riverstones in my coat pockets.
Given wholly to the freezing river,
my burden sinking, arms wide
as if ecstatic prayer—the coat
slips willingly below the ice.
Dog panting. Crackling cold wind.
All the obvious
then this: the heartbeat
of a sage hen sleeping under snow.
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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,