National Poetry Month: ‘Surge Channel’ by Suzanne Roszak

Suzanne Roszak

April represents National Poetry Month, intended as a way to spread awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. To celebrate, each Wednesday we will be taking a deep dive into both ZYZZYVA’s recent and distant past to share some choice selections. To begin the month, we present Suzanne Roszak’s poem “Surge Channel” from ZYZZYVA No. 102, Winter 2014:

Surge Channel

Always get the last word.

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I imagined sea-bathers, wanting to stand
above them unbuckled in the wind,
my pores soaking up the smooth violence,
and dive. But the water was more stabbing
than they led me to expect. So instead,
smaller swimmers in brighter colors
lapped me at the edge of the surf, dashing
in and out as I stood toe-deep, dying
as inefficiently and persistently
as possible. Somewhere not far away,
someone teenage-sounding was rapping
triumphantly about butts. Implied expletives
echoed against the cliffs. There was
something impossible in it: less the vivid
disregard for romance or the female brain
than the confidence in how we all
respond to extremes. Barring some
phenomenal shift in temperament, I knew
I’d tuck my feet away from the wet rock.
I knew about surge channels, how
the sea plants double over to save themselves
while the oysters slam their faces together
against the air. I had no idea of
drowning that day or ever, a necklace
of jellies tight around my throat – had
no love or urchins or salted weeds,
a braid of slime flapping and twisting
to drag this body under.

Suzanne Roszak received her MFA in poetry from The University of California, Irvine and her PhD in comparative literature from Yale University. Suzanne has taught creative writing at UC Irvine and literature and composition at Cal State San Bernardino, UC Riverside, and other universities. Her poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Ecotone, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Poetry Northwest, Redivider, Third Coast, Verse Daily, and others.

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