Alice Teeter



This Quiet Lake

There is a place where my sea meets your land,
or maybe it is your ocean meets my shore.
The luxurious waves can pick us up and lift us,
that pulsing salt water filling every pore,
the undulation of the swell as it travels
over sand bars and hillocks beneath,
rolling high up onto the warm beach to rest,
seaweed entwined, baking in hot sun on the sand.

But the hidden reef can cut our skin to tatters
leave red clouds to swirl and mix in the surf,
rip tides can snatch us from the safety of the beach,
carry us far out, exhausted, to the lingering sharks,
a surge can pick us up, head straight inland for miles,
leave us stranded among strangers, gasping for breath.

I have traveled miles to find this quiet lake,
to this place where I now invite you to meet me.
It’s a small body of water surrounded by color,
where large men walk with little white dogs,
and tiny children swim in high summer’s heat.

This time of year, the breeze brings
showers of gold and red as you walk.
The wind comes down on the surface
of the water and murmurs kind words.

Sometimes you see a blue heron take off
and fly over a surface that is still as glass.
The bird glides over itself, wings outspread,
two worlds at once living and breathing –
the sky, the clouds, the shore
double in that flight.

The Sage

She invites you to sit with her on the chaise lounge
in the lobby of the conference hotel
your peers clatter all around you

She leans in    her breath whispers in your ear
your voice wisps into her hair
mid loud cataracts that fall above you

her hot hand grasps your thigh    you feel
the sharp intake of her voice   she says
how strong you are     her arms move over you

Her eyes say    when are you going to be with me
it is all up to you    she widens her body
you are the only thing that stands between you

you get up     walk to the front desk
ring a bell     book a room      turn
key in hand    scan the crowd    she is lost to you


drop the key     forget the swirl of the swarm
set aside thoughts of her husband    your wife
she stands right here beside you

the person you were born to desire most of all
the one you have been looking for
spread your hand    she is always with you



She builds a man from the mud    As far as the horizon
in all directions there is only clay    cracked as if a note
deep under the earth had sounded leaving large plates
of mud separated by clefts a deeper red

She has taken her hands and dug deep
where it is still wet and fluid    She shapes the man
curls his muscles    the softest mud on his torso
the hardest applied to his feet and hands

She is tired   covered in mud herself    all red
she looks just like him    She finishes his head
with hard clay    stops    steps back to rest    gazes
at his features    admires his beauty    Sighs

Quickly she takes her thumbs and scoops the mud
away from his eyes    They open wide    the whites
bright against the wet oxblood of his face
He stares at her    focused and alert
His eyes cut fear into her heart


Copyright © 2012 Alice Teeter

Alice Teeter is currently Lecturer in Poetry at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She studied poetry at Eckerd College with Peter Meinke. Her chapbook entitled 20 CLASS A was published in 1975 by Morningstar Media, Tallahassee, Florida. Teeter’s collection of poems entitled String Theory won the Georgia Poetry Society’s 2008 Charles B. Dickson Chapbook Contest, judged by poet Lewis Turco. Her book When It Happens To You . . . was published in 2009 by Star Cloud Press.

Teeter is a member of the Artist Conference Network, a national coaching community for people doing creative work and also of Alternate ROOTS, a service organization for artists creating community-based work in the Southeast. She has led ‘Improvoetry’ workshops with Lesly Fredman, using improvisation techniques as poetic inspiration and poetry as a springboard for further improvisation. A founding member of the String Theory Cohort, Teeter and the company have created and performed dance pieces using her poems “String Theory” and “The Woman Who Ate Anger.”