On First Reading Susan Wheeler

Kathleen Ossip

Fall 2019

57th Street, c. 1995


In Coliseum Books, the calendars
imply DECEMBER. Answers I have none,
or feeble. And how could questions be sources
of pleasure or of profit? Her answers flick:
blue or 29 or candlebright.
December windows. Snowflakes spit like candles.
Cold, and books on shelves that make me cold.
All around, on shelves, final lines shrivel,
dead filaments in a lightbulb. Who can stop
without subtracting? Only, it seems, she.

It was “What Memory Reveals” and I
lived near Columbus Avenue at the time.

Kathleen Ossip is the author of The Do-Over, a New York Times Editors' Choice. She was a 2016-2017 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and she teaches at The New School in New York. 

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