Nancy Kuhl inside the Beinecke Library

In Today‘s Episode

August is Summer Reading Month in Daily Nutmeg. Please enjoy these poems selected from Nancy Kuhl’s Suspend (2010).

* * *


The divine practice
of telling—by cards or
cloudy glass or this line
tracing—is a tightrope
walker’s first quivering
step. His second. I crave
fortune, put faith in this
art of inspection, of selection
from the infinite possible
darlings and disasters. Wait,
there’s something I forgot
to tell you and I want
to be told. To be laid open
like a book; to be read.

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Hopkins School

The Strain that Can’t be Ignored
between the Day and Its Details

In today’s episode our heroine,
the hostess, folds her wings (papery
and iridescent as any insect’s), sits and
waits for her guests to arrive. In this
subtle light it’s difficult to see her
concealed as she is by the upholstery’s
complex coloring. Invisible subplots
in her narrative involve an owl, a fire
slow-burning behind the closet
door, a shadowy clairvoyant bent
over a deck of cards. The hostess hides
her valuables in the wall, tied in a bag
swinging from a black cord; it never
touches either side of the hollow.


At times there is a danger of losing
control, the road is icy or I am
distracted by a bit of summerlight,
visited by a glimpse of another
possibility, the cast off meadowlife
flickering golden past the car
on either side for miles. Then
I am colorless as a mirror, as cool
to the touch. The noisy mess
of days, creak and clatter on slack
floorboards, voices carrying room
to room. But how to quiet? Then it
seems impossible one moment should
lead so plainly to the next; and me
with my greedy and envious hands
me with my bellyful of sand.


I know his skin: it is a story
about heat and salt and pulse.
Take for instance his wrist where
it bends. Now the window surrounds
sky burning white; tress bear the weight
of so many sparrows, the eye can’t
separate branch and leaf and wing.
It is possible this is everything.
Glass-splintered sunlight organizes
the room into a systematic whole;
it is the terrifically yellow
confirmation of my suspicions:
we will continue regardless
of an occasional fire in our throats;
we will take what we want
whatever the consequence.

* * *

Suspend by Nancy Kuhl
Where to buy: Shearsman Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Small Press Distribution

Image, photographed by Dan Mims, depicts Nancy Kuhl inside her workplace, the Beinecke Library.

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