Tuesday, November 25, 2014

how to be another by Susan Lewis

Susan Lewis’ collection, how to be another, is complex, rich, and decadent. It could easily go over your allotted intake of prose, perhaps go above your head, yet is worth submitting yourself to again and again. Her words take time to sink in, dear Reader, and I urge you to take a closer look after the sample I am happy to share with you below:

The Embrace

And in that ecstatic moment he squeezed her harder than he had ever done before, crushing her rib-cage against his like a sprig of lavender or a wedge of lemon, a bagpipe or an emergency alert, squeezing out her fragrance & her juices & her cries, cracking her hollow bones in order to coat himself in her yielding flesh. He did this because there was no other way to endure the concentrated intensity of attachment deposited by the years, but also because he could no longer do without certain information. So he held on, while his Proteus ran through her repertoire of alternatives: not lion or serpent, tree or torrent—but Lolita & hag, consumptive & shrew. He knew enough not to be surprised that the compression he exerted on her living core would transform her, as sand is transformed to stone by the weight of the world. She might even split in two—in which case, he thought, he would possess her doubly. Or perhaps she might disassemble into an entirely new form. & although he feared for the continuity of her identity, he felt sure he could adjust to anything—anything, short of erasure, or whatever might silence her, because then he would never learn what he needed to know.

When I read this, I think of a man so in love with his woman that he must possess her utterly, sink into her and mold her to his own desires. It is a violent, possessive love for this pair above and it makes me wonder who this couple is and if she wants to be consumed so fully, transformed to his side so completely.


I want to thank you for the cage you made. As you know, it fits my narrow outlook to a T, better than the one I made myself. That one, you may recall, replaced my original home. Those were the days! Remember? Back then we were always fed & watered, & could sometimes touch fingers through the bars. Forgive me for wondering why you continue to concern yourself with my well-being. I would have thought, with those instinctively kinetic & incessantly expanding offspring, you’d have your hands full enough with (only the best) locks & bars & other paraphernalia of affection & concern.

I sometimes feel as though I am caged, we all do sometimes. Whether it is by a family member or work or illness, there are a variety of cages we build to either protect ourselves (mentioned in the beginning) or by others who want to control or possess us. I feel there is a complex relationship between the poet and the one she addresses in the prose. While it may not be our privilege to know the story it is a relatable one and I am moved by it.


You can’t say we didn’t have it coming. You can’t say I didn’t warn you, unless you can. On the bright side, there were breadcrumbs littering the forest floor. Hansel mistook the place for some kind of confection. We haven’t done anything wrong yet, whined Gretel, whipping out her loaves & fishes, whacking her witless brother about the head. Hundreds of years later we’re still lost & wandering, getting by on miracles & the fumes from our self-directed rage. Confusion is our guiding principle. Entropy lights some sort of way, which is the best we can hope to achieve in these dark & scary woods.

I always love twists on classics. While this may be the “familiar” tale of Hansel and Gretel it turns the focus towards the relationship between Hansel and Gretel. While they may still be “lost & wandering” hundreds of years later they have somehow escaped danger at various turns. It makes me wonder about their full history, their full story.

As I said earlier, I urge you to take a closer look at Susan Lewis’ collection, how to be another. To purchase a copy for $17.00 please go to:

Thanks always for reading…