After Coleridge by Susan E. Gunter

Argument: in which a grieving mother
sees the albatross mating rituals

I walk with her in the early morning
so that she can see what I saw
yesterday—albatross mating,
rituals of magic incantations,
clattering staccato beats of lust,
whinnies at an empty cobalt sky.

A wedding guest should hear her tale,
but only I am here. It’s the same narrative:
her grief, the birds’ fierce biology,
just the sequencing is different.
She washed her son’s body for burial,
they dance an alphabet of life.

If albatross are souls of dead sailors,
then her fisherman boy’s returned.



Susan E. Gunter has published poems in journals around the country. She studied poetry with James Dickey, Jane Shore, and Andrea Hollander. She is on the board at the Marin Poetry Center and lives in Santa Rosa, CA. You can find her on Facebook and