Susan Morse

Fog Descending on Otter Cliffs

A white triangle of sail billows up, then down

slowly saturated by pillows of fog fanning

over the pink and gray speckled stones.

My mother loved opera.  We listen to the music

of Carreras during our last moonlit picnic.


Old age memories can fracture like the rays

of a full moon, drift out to sea, slip into the night rise

until only a body remains, a hum of what was once

the entire opera.


Tonight we hear the muffled clang of the bellwether

mouthing its own rhythm, the warning call to sailors

that the shape of these rocks can be dangerously

softened in the songs of fog, cliff edges obliterated

in the twilight smile of a cold moon. 


When my mother dies, I'll sing as I scatter her ashes

over these cliffs, the gritty fog will swirl about, scattering

tiny puffs that will ride the wind under the watchful stare

of seabirds.  They'll rise up, flap wings in anticipation

of recovering even a tiny morsel of something they too

might have lost.

Image by Jeff Finley

Susan Morse earned her Masters degree in Literacy Education at the University of Maine, Orono, and spent a summer working with the Maine Writers’ Project. She taught English/Language Arts at the middle school level for many years before retiring to Oregon in 2016 where she served on the board of the Oregon Poetry Association. Her first chapbook , In the Hush, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019. Susan's work has also appeared in various journals including Cream City Review, The Mom Egg, The Aurorean, Sixfold, Cirque, Willawaw Journal, and The Poeming Pigeon, to name a few. She recently won the 2021 NFSPS New York State Poetry Forum Award. 

About the Artist