Tamara Fusselman

2021 Fall Journal


The frost on the pane; the globe
of a street lamp; and you wonder, musician,
why you are not Bach.

You had to turn away
from the piano, turn away
from your chorales, to see
the frost feathering the pane.

There is light. There must
be light, since the shadow of a branch
snakes through the
iridescence of the frost, and since
the frost itself glows visibly.

And since there’s light,
why let the light-source matter?
Say it doesn’t matter. Say
only that it is cold and night:

Frost on the window, and the globe
of the full moon.

Suburban Theophany: Ants in the Bathtub

We don’t know
why the ants so
love our bathtub.
Is it the H2O?
There’s no grub,
unless they feast
on bar soap and shampoo.

We can’t tell exactly why
the toads hop toward our
or why chipmunks burrow
into our house to die.

Nature makes a nuisance of itself,
and, while it’s hard to love
the ones who raise their offspring
in our food,
the bugs who gulp our blood,
there’s something cheery
about the lesser pests.

We have field guides on every shelf,
we grew up watching the Nature Show,
the better to decipher,
but still, we never know.
Meanwhile, a line
of tin-
y aliens

Heart Lake — a love poem

Dawn at the clear little lake:
the mist rises up in faint curls,
and near the shore, underwater,
a newt adds his own silty swirls.

The ferns of frost wither with morning,
though the blizzards are not far away
– and the woods wear their best to greet winter
in one last brash and blazing display.

The newt is too cold to move quickly,
though his small paws raise small clouds of mud.
They eddy as he also eddies,
a curlicue both fish and snake.

He is still:
All else pivots around him
like the mist
and the mud
in the lake.

Writer’s Statement: “The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.” (Pope Francis) What Iris Murdoch called “unselfing” relies on a bright inner mirror; a rich interior life, but one not focused on itself. These three observational poems track attending away from the self, whether through serendipity, curiosity, or adventure; in urban, suburban, and wild environments, respectively. Dunkelblau is blue dark enough to be black. Heart Lake is the name of a small lake in the Adirondacks. The observations move from artistic self-involvement to centering the cosmos, not on ourselves, but a small amphibian.

Bio: Tamara Fusselman is a mother, composer, and recovering data analyst. She grew up at a community church whose music director believed the Anglican choral tradition is for everyone. Her family is on COVID break from the choir at St Matthew’s in Evanston, and misses it terribly. She values implicitly Christian art for its power to reflect Christ in all things and reach those who do not experience explicitly Christian art as welcoming. She has a MS in mathematics from LUC.

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