studio love

A Notebook

ruminations of an aspiring artist

Guest post: Work by Susanna Joy Smith


At Studio Love, we feel so lucky to be surrounded by sensitive, brave, creative souls. My spirits were lifted today when I received this note with poems attached by email from Susanna. I felt a strong sensation/memory when I imagined what it would have been like to receive these as hand written letters by mail before the digital age descended on us. I hope these will touch you and bring you into your own imagination in the same way.

"I am sending three short pieces from a folder I title My Happier Work...Perhaps they need some sort of introduction, which is to say amid the longer work driven by grief, I have written some short pieces focused on joy and happiness, for my sanity and my survival."


On Finding My Voice

My voice crept in in whispers
Words and phrases incomplete
It came when I was washing dishes, staring out the window
It came when I was walking in the woods, alone without a pen
It drifted in like drowsy memories, foggy and unclear, difficult to net
It came fluttering like leaves in the wind
First, a single leaf, then a second, then a third
Until the branches dumped the handfuls, armfuls, rakefuls
of words onto pages,
Whole thoughts, whole sentences, whole scenes.
As it became louder, more forceful and insistent
I felt the old wounds release their crust and open up anew
Hot and hurting
Willing to be heard, willing to be healed

- Susanna Joy Smith, 15 August 2016


The People Are Smiling on You, My Son

Before you, I had never walked the streets with another human nestled in my abdomen.

Before you, I never knew the unrestrained joy my swollen belly might bring.

I never knew how the old man at the grocery, and the young man in the green Subaru, and the frail woman in the too-loose purple jogging shorts would all smile on you, my son.

It is a reflexive joy that appears on the faces of these strangers.

Sometimes, it is also surprise or wonder.

If I stand with my back to them, they do not see you at first.

But when I turn, they see the belly that speaks to the promise of you, you nestled there in my abdomen, kicking and squirming, pawing and gurgling, and growing.

Every day, growing.

When they see you, they smile, these strangers.

The middle aged woman in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, and little girl in the fluorescent pink tankini at the pool, and the pimply teenage boy who held the door for you at the ice cream shop.

Those smiles are not for me.

Those smiles are for you, my son, because you, nestled there in my abdomen, are a promise espoused, a covenant with life, for which even a stranger can be grateful.

- Susanna Joy Smith, 19 August 2016


To The Marigolds By the Mailbox

To the marigolds by the mailbox,
Which grew from splinters of seeds I planted in the late spring,
Seeds edged in black and whispers of fluff,
I note it is the sun by the hedge that you prefer.
Not the light of the late afternoon in back garden,
Or the shade of the maple tree on the front lawn,
But the full sun of a full day.
I note it is the burning rays of summer under which your foliage grows full,
And those yellow and orange blossoms bloom plentiful,
Blossoms ruffled and soft, smelling of cut grass and the freedom of June,
Bright, unabashed flowers that remind me of swimming pools and beaches, and
Lying in hammocks, staring up at summer clouds on a summer day.

- Susanna Joy Smith, August 2016

Arlene Suda