on the page magazine

issue no. 3, summer 2001
adult adolescence


Natural Defenses

by Susan Terris

A risk-taker, I've never mastered
the art of protection

as a tree defends itself
against a giraffe
with bitter tannin that stops forage
and warns downwind
of danger. Or as a trout
hooked in a river
releases pheromones to alert
those swimming downstream.

Your reflexes, the fisherman warned,
slow down as you get older.

He was not speaking of fishing,
of course. But I,
disarmed by a taste for intensity,
less savvy than
trout or tree, forgot
to prepare myself for pain.
Even an old giraffe
remembers to browse downwind.

Susan Terris's recent books of poetry include Curved Space, Eye of the Holocaust, and Angels of Bataan. She has also published Susan Terris: Greatest Hits and Nell's Quilt, among others. Her work has been published in journals such as The Antioch Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, Nimrod, Southern California Anthology, and The Southern Poetry Review. Her poem "Palatino" appeared in the siblings issue of On the Page. To read more of her poetry, visit her Web site.

return to top of page
more poetry in this issue
all poetry adult adolescence home

home about OtP our staff guidelines events links OtP suggests
contact us copyright