Cover Image for The Dark is a Door
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary 25
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-25-8
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-25-7
  • Pages: 56
  • Size: 6 x 8.5 x .25 in
  • Price: $9.95

The Dark is a Door

Susan Strayer Deal

Susan Strayer Deal’s collection The Dark Is a Door is an austere work born of Nebraska’s dry prairie landscape. The ferocity of seasons—the bone-dry summer heat, the relentless indifference of winter—and the ever persistent scouring of prairie winds lead to a land, and a poetry, stripped of adornment. It is a landscape of distances where the animate and inanimate are not easily distinguishable, the hard ground converging with whatever might move upon it. Deal’s poetry pulls shape from this vastness, a quiet attestation of the poet’s commitment to seeing what is there, to define from dark earth forms and images of concentrated brilliance.


The full text of Susan Strayer Deal’s The Dark Is a Door is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.



You can’t live

hard enough

when October comes.

Its red, brown

burn of leaves.

Its live hot

coal of moon.

The dark and its

damp breath

inside your clothes.

The way the fields,

shriven of corn,

pull you into

their gothic, misty

light. You never

believed so hard

in gourds, in apples.

How complete they

turn in their ripeness.

The ripening chill of

dusk making the bones

in your arms and legs

stronger, straighter.

In the colored afternoons

a hundred shades of light

fall in your hair. For

every October morning

there are at least a

hundred ways to live.

And again and again

you will choose one.


Copyright © 1984 by Susan Strayer Deal

Born and raised in Nebraska, Susan Strayer Deal received her B.A. from Kearney State College and her M.A. from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and several anthologies. No Moving Parts, her first collection of poems, was published by Ahsahta Press in 1980.