She waits in darkness staring down
at the parabola of wave, sand, gull, and rock.
Views shift clockwise and clockwise, breakers siphon
off the curved lip, until the world
is upsidedown yet circling to re-right itself.
A pelican skids, beaks a fish, wings over the rim
of the silken bowl. A thin woman dressed
in black, who might be herself, descends stairs
and vanishes in the Muse Mechanique.
Leonardo knew this camera. Vermeer used it
for portraits: a spinning mirror
and lenses, one convex, one concave.
As light glints through an aperture,
a picture roils upon a curve in a dim room.
Standing there watching her spouse and children
rotate out of sight on the beach below,
she feels herself begin to invert
and slide off the surface into nothingness
or coexistence. Leaving the camera, she climbs
to the street and a car hits her. Standing at the curb,
she sees a car hit someone else.
She steps in front of a car and no impact jars.
But maybe she never moved at all. Music, odd and
bell-like, dins her head. Moments peel off: a history
of what happens or what might be. Perhaps she
can choose memory. Elect the outcome,
dismiss the accident, moment of rape or desertion.
Her children, robust and long-limbed, cavort
yet orbit off the smooth edges
of the arc. Each rotation they are changed,
color-leached, flatter, more distant.
Her husband riffles pages of his paper yet stares
outward toward the breaker line where a windsurfer
luffs a waxy sail. This man with newspaper
is a white-haired stranger in polarfleece
She might abandon the dark room and meet him
on the beach. She might, like the woman in black,
glide into the Muse, face Laughing Sal's
day-glo ringlets and lewd-jiggle cantaloupe breasts.
Or she may risk the path of the oncoming car,
cross the street and dissolve,
leaving everything and everyone
capsized in the oceanic curve of time.
Susan Terris' book "CURVED SPACE" was published by the La Jolla Poets Press in January, 1998. In 1999, she has had two new poetry books published: "EYE OF THE HOLOCAUST" (Arctos Press) and "ANGELS OF BATAAN" (Pudding House Publications). Other recent books are: "Killing In The Comfort Zone" (Pudding House Publications) and "Nell's Quilt" (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Her work has been published in such magazines as The Antioch Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly, Nimrod, and The Southern Poetry Review. On-line her work has appeared in The Blue Penny Quarterly, Blue Moon Review, In Vivo, Kudzu, among others.