The poetry of Susan Sweetland Garay


The slow death of winter

and though I try to remain distant
I cannot help but hope,

so I lean in with a hard yes
working diligently at what I can control
and releasing what I can’t.

And when the only answer
is I just don’t know,
try to realize that
this is our beginning.

Speak it out loud,
and then
go outside
to play in the snow.

Maybe that is the first step,
to let out a wild and authentic laugh
as I sled down the long hill of our snow
covered backyard as the moon rises.

And maybe clarity in something easy
will help bring the rest of the world into alignment,
back into the light.

Maybe we will reject these rules
and decide to make new ones,

maybe we throw away those old maps
realizing finally that we can make our own.

Dreaming of the dead and not yet born

I am a gatherer of bones
who finds stories and
then tries to remember them.

I have some of yours
kept close

and now you’re gone from this world
and you were gone
for me
long before that –
but I cannot remember why.

Sometimes it feels
like floating
or flying
or falling

but sometimes power comes
from giving in
or leaving behind.

Now I am afraid
but my fear and the
ever present eventual goodbye
make the creating feel more vital

and so on a day when the
anger is all

I imagine you both nearby
walking barefoot over rocks
and dipping toes
into cold water

listening and
for your turn.

And when I think I am alone
driving through the dark,
that I am the only one,

I remember that we are never the only ones,

and when it is time to step away
I turn my back quickly
and even that
small movement
begins to bring relief.

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay currently lives in the Willamette Valley with her husband and daughter where she works in the vineyard industry. She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, on line and in print. Her first full length poetry collection,Approximate Tuesday, was published in 2013 and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014.  Her second collection, Strange Beauty from Aldrich Press, was published in 2015.  More of her work can be found at


  1. I enjoyed these poems by Susan Sweetland Garay for the ways she interweaves the natural world with her inner landscape of memories and emotions. I particularly liked “Needles.” My favorite line was “Maybe clarity in something easy will help bring the rest of the world into alignment…” I have found that to be true.


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