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Susan Utting Susan Utting 

POEMS

Opening the Windows

after Vilhelm Hamershøi, Interior 1909

June, and the ceremony begins. The catch
on a bedroom frame is first - unlocked,
the handle lifted, stiffened hinge eased
to a different angle.

The hairs on her bare arms stir themselves
a little, do not quite rise - there is no thrill
here, simply air on unaccustomed skin.

'Fresh' is the word for outside air come in,
but she doesn't use it - silence is her way,
breath her language. And so the slow
letting-in continues,

pane by pane, catch, handle, hinge, breath,
air that moves, felt along the blood, like a sip
of iced water, like snow after birchwood heat,

petals fallen on dry earth, their cool
restfulness after all that blowsy flowering.


from "New Poems" section of Half the Human Race (Two Rivers Press 2017)

This poem was a winner in the Poetry Society's Getting Out Competition

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