Night Swim, Tempelfjorden, Svalbard

Susannah Lee

Something preceded me as I plunged

into meltwater so smooth, beyond glacial. I saw


light where there was none. I cut 

into darkness to descend faster than heart


beat. My body signaled silence. When I came up

to air I saw the fjord shift imperceptibly—


the fox gray earth barely holding all 

it had seen. Ancient spirits flew up


toppled, spun with kittiwake and guillemot

shelving off from the glacier's eyes


down to the tumbled scree of my heart.

And they buoyed me. Here, I am not allowed to die.


Header Image: susannah_lee | Image Credit: susannah_lee


SUSANNAH LEE’s chapbook Wintering Over is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. An independent producer for public radio and film, Lee was Fulbright scholar in Portugal, and her radio stories have aired on NPR, PRI, and Monitor Radio. Her poems have appeared in Cloudbank 17, Nine Mile Magazine, Ploughshares, Sonora Review, The Woven Tale, and others. “Night Swim, Tempelfjorden, Svalbard” was written after sailing on a barquentine throughout the Svalbard Archipelago with The Arctic Circle in October of 2022.