Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Dailies & Rushes

by Susan Kinsolving

“The passion, playfulness, and regret in these wonderful poems will make many women think this book was written just for them.” –Susan Cheever

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 112
  • Publication Date March 17, 1999
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3605-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $13.00

About The Book


“The passion, playfulness, and regret in these wonderful poems will make many women think this book was written just for them.” –Susan Cheever

‘susan Kinsolving’s poems skate with a dark elegance on the thin ice between the upper air and a deepening sorrow, between the day’s figures and memory’s pattern. But she’s headed towards love: the distant shore, the beckoning warmth; and by the end of Dailies & Rushes she has gotten herself–and, to our delight and gratitude, brought us as well–triumphantly there.” –J. D. McClatchy

“What rings with authenticity in Susan Kinsolving’s poems is a lovely severity. . . . Sorrow and courage and pleasure register themselves in lucid distillations, like the purities of winter air.” –Anthony Hecht

“”Things just are,” Susan Kinsolving writes, in a matter-of-fact tone that belies a fiery intensity. In her poetry, commonplace things are imbued with a magical aura. Her wry wit clarifies as it deepens a tragic vision.

” –Grace Schulman

“In her first major collection Susan Kinsolving shows herself to be a poet of ravenous amplitudes, of wit schooled by feeling, of observations had owed by memory, and of landscape rising to what she calls “an oblique sublimity” which is also the hallmark of her art.” –Edward Hirsch


Chapter One



In red foil paper was my present, just
as I had asked: a magnifying glass. I
was five, but my dismay was huge
intensified by feigned gratitude. What
to say? where was the word of my mistake?
In silence, I enlarged snowflakes,
pine needles, carpet threads, six
crumbs of cake, and the dark pupils
of my dog’s eyes. But the word hid
elsewhere, almost disguised, as glass
might be the illusion of clarity. And so
it’s been in all my words and hopes:
poems, the elusive gift, the microscope.


I saw a stick
wandering over snowdrifts
cheerful and unassuming
twirling and unarmed.

A Chaplin cane without Charlie
wobbled and poked
making its way
taking its walk alone
a crutch without connection.

It plodded deep
half disappearing in white
while creating and leaving
the shape of its emptiness.

I followed it far
an odd extension I could not grasp
and it went away,

an immaculate line of idea
on which only cold air
was allowed to lean.


As icicles fell between
the edge of the eave and the night,
my grandmother fell
into what she said was “snow
sleep.” The clear points of her

consciousness broke down
into drifts and entered shapes
unseen. The blue flakes
of her old eyes opened
into an absolute. Whiteness

covered over my grandmother
and under the sheets
of those December weeks,
she was deeper than seasons,
she was calmer than cold.


White cubes on a white curve are snow-covered
hives on a snow-covered hill. Walking past
this icy pasture, I hear a hum, a low minor

one, thin as the crystalline lace in the ditch,
distant as the reasons shaping the drift. Who
can come to grips with insects or ice, other

worlds in this? In the inner ear is what
buzzes here. And beyond. I cannot see, but
in the white box is a frozen bee. Clover

catches its breath and sap stops in the trees. Hands
warm as they numb. Gradually, quietly,
momentous forces reduce to minute

degrees. Hope is as elementary as
ancient mercury. Finally, each hum
is nothing but a prayer for one, this one.


The depth of cold, that bone and tooth of winter, stuns us
as the immensity of ice snaps and settles over the jagged
river, its current turned into a disorder of edges. Only
our senses converge as we stare in silence unable to ask

what holds us here with the wind biting our lips, our gloved
fingertips, numbing us with something sub-zero, a negative
count toward infinity. Last night, the knife points of stars
stopped us from walking into the warmth of a room. Instead,

we stood shivering as if waiting for the black water-taffeta
sky to be slit open, for the silver light to pour out, kindle
its color, and release us from so much space, from the vast
chill of separation, the force of isolation. Even the moon

denied its radiant cradle and suspended a steely scythe.
But we who were born in this season have learned the myths
of its severity, its impervious heart. We will walk
by the river and into the night together. After all, we were

once the infants suited for this frosted earth and frozen air.
We became the children who accepted the chilblains of their own
creations, their small arms feathered with soft flakes, their bodies
lying in an imitation of angels, as ours lie in another shape.


What is the matter here, but a hearty way
to stew and get through another winter?
The porcelain basin is layered, a cross-hatching
of tattered wet ribbons, earth
orange, dirt brown, root white, the thin
skins that separate space from the heart
of the matter. With the sinews of carrot,
the fortitude of potato, the perseverance
of parsnip, a person can pare down an enigma.
What is unresolved can dissolve, lost
in the broth of seasons. With so many
mouths to feed, so much pith and peeling,
what is the recipe for comfort in our vast
cold? What changes this chill to a fast boil?

Copyright ” 1999 by Susan Kinsolving. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.

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