SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Idiopathic by Susan L. Leary

In a Connecticut summer, squirrels’ food

scatters the ground and waits to harass the feet.

I run un-appalled, careless.

The squirrels: They are diligent to inspect

what they put in their mouths.

Out front, maple leaves look like animal hands,

and by fall, they are trapped in wax paper.

I am a girl, and I am small:

only the sun is fat.

In a kitchen, my aunt cuts too much watermelon

and plucks red and green grapes into variously sized

ceramic bowls.

The plates bearing sliced cucumbers are round and thin.

In another, Gram throws out the Halloween candy.

By thirteen, my mother is pleased

about two Fig Newtons. I am pleased to get two hands

around my thigh.

As an adult, I am as swollen and fuzzy as the fruit

I eat too much of.

It is ironic: beneath a fat moon, I run night by night

a 3-mile stretch of sidewalk into my youth to keep

my tongue quiet.

Roots split open the concrete.

Everything is partial and specific. 

Even when speaking to myself—about myself—

I avoid full sentences: I was,

but am told I am not…

small. As nature tends to winter bodies,

I swear off rain—swear off the pattern of the world

before it angers and weeps: take the dog out,

make tea, listen for…

drums of someone’s making in the sky.


Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her poetry has been published in many print and online journals, including most recently Gyroscope Review, The Christian Century, Crack the Spine, Malevolent Soap, Clear Poetry, and Dime Show Review, among others. 

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