Two cotton slips, the larger hung on a hanger, lace at the bodice,
and the child’s, cross-stitched, draped over a chair.
Washed so often they are nearly transparent.
Someone must have packed them, folded into almost nothing.
That’s what my grandmother said—folds into nothing.
As if everything could be carried in a suitcase if the cloth were fine enough.
Not her family Bible, each page thin as a slip of cotton
but so many pages, heavy with inked dates,
births, marriages, deaths; the cover unyielding.
Nor the deliberate sound of the fires,
their bitter odor, their flames engulfing the village.
Could not be folded away, then unpacked and aired on a hanger.
Susanna Lang’s most recent collection of poems, Tracing the Lines, was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press. Her first collection, Even Now, was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press, followed by a chapbook, Two by Two (Finishing Line Press, 2011). A two-time Hambidge fellow and a recipient of the Emerging Writers Fellowship from the Bethesda Writer’s Center, she has published original poems and translations from the French in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, december, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Blue Lyra Review, Prime Number Magazine and Poetry East. Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.