Origin Stories – Susan Barry-Schulz

Origin Stories
              —on reading Alex D. at Jones Beach State Park, Field 2
    by Susan Barry-Schulz

    I took your book, Love, to the windswept 
    beach. Grains of sand hurled

    themselves deep into its spine.
    Pages fluttered—

    feathers and pages,
    papery wings inked in fire.

    A single cloud slid across
    the bluest of skies, darkening

    the seawater, casting shadows
    on the threadbare quilt.

    We held our breath for a moment
    until everything sparkled again,

    as before. I took your book, Love,
    to the beach—pelted by feldspar,

    quartz, tiny fragments of shells—
    and didn’t we all 

    take shelter there; traveling monarchs, 
    herring gulls, ghost crabs;

    all of us restless creatures
    at the shoreline 
    wanting in.

    (first published in Archetype, Spring 2022)

Origin Stories – Jones

Every year my husband and I pick a day in late September to drive out to Jones Beach and pretend it’s still summer. We pack books to read and a picnic lunch and our old beach chairs and towels and sunscreen and spend a good deal of time picking out the perfect spot to set up the umbrella once we get there. We end up closing our eyes and taking deep slow breaths and walking for miles in the holy place where the water meets the sand. It feels almost like we are stealing time. Or filling up our bodies for the coming winter. Jones Beach falls within an important migratory corridor for the fall migration of the monarch butterfly so these days are often filled with the sight of the delicate fluttering of the bright orange and black wings of the butterflies who stop to rest and feed on nearby Fire Island fire before making their way to the dense forests of Mexico 2500 hundred miles away.

On this particular day, I was reading a paperback copy of Alex Dimitrov’s Love and Other Poems, and although the morning had started off all sun and blue skies, as the day went on gray clouds rolled in and a steady wind came off the water. We pulled on sweatshirts and wrapped our legs and arms in our beach towels. One by one the other beachgoers around us folded up their chairs and headed back to the parking lot. Soon we were getting pelted by sand and wind and after an unsuccessful attempt at using sitting an old lifeguard storage hut to block the wind, we remembered a little part of the beach that we had come across on our earlier walk where the tides had formed a kind of a U-shaped barrier.

We sat down low in that protected space and shut out the wind and the darkening clouds and finished our books surrounded by a few bold and curious seagulls. I remember feeling in a tangible way the capacity of books to offer us shelter. Our beach umbrella did not survive that day but I got this poem out of it and I am grateful for the ways in which it reminds me of the accessible magic of a good book of poetry and also connects me to our stolen September days on the beach.


Susan Barry-Schulz grew up just outside of Buffalo, New York. She is a licensed physical therapist living with chronic illness. Her poetry has appeared in SWWIM, Barrelhouse online, Rogue AgentNew Verse NewsNightingale & Sparrow, Shooter Literary MagazineThe Wild Word, Bending Genres, B O D Y, Gyroscope Review, Quartet, Moist Poetry Journal, Moot Point Magazine, Iron Horse Literary Review, West Trestle Review, One Art and in many other print and online journals and anthologies. You can find her on Twitter at @suebarryschulz

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

April 11 – Jessica Purdy

April 12 – Lakshman Bulusu

April 13 – Kim Malinowski

April 14 – Anita Pulier

April 15 – Martha Bordwell

April 16 – Anastasia Walker

April 17 – Annette Sisson

April 18 – Shaheen Dil

April 19 – Claudia Reder

April 20 – Cathy Thwing

April 21 – Sarah Snyder

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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