Susan’s work has been published in a variety of publications.

The Bluebird Word, August 29, 2022. Read the essay here.

Ravensperch, July 27, 2022. Read the essay here.
Under the Sun, August 2013. Read the essay here.
Hippocampus Magazine, April 2015. Read the essay here.
Burrow Press Review. Read the essay here.

Here is an example of Susan’s work


The serrated ridge taunts, so close. A dash to the top to take in the view, a glimpse of the valley on the far side, a quick retreat down the slope. She’ll never be out of sight.


I can do this. I have to do it.

Each time we drive to Denali National Park, Kesugi Ridge beckons, promising an unobstructed view of the mountain and the wide, gray, braided Chulitna River below. This time, my curiosity will be satisfied.

From above, the gray granite boulder where I’ve left my daughter appears flat and short, less tower than altar. Perched on top, she curls knees to chest, still and exposed, the green inflatable cast around her ankle bulging like a tire about to burst.

I push hard and fast up the mountain. Each time I glance back, Elisha looks smaller and smaller. It’s hard to know when a stubborn child tells the truth or simply wants her own way. She was tired, she said. Her ankle hurt. I urged her on. She plopped down on a patch of dwarf willow.

I want her to love hiking, camping, all things outdoors, but at age twelve a daughter begins to undo the knot that ties her to her mother. Her mother tugs back, yet secretly longs to be free.

She’s a wiry child. Somersaults, cartwheels, splits, parallel bars, balance beams. Leotards, pony tails, tiny breasts. Practices, performances, applause. With one spectacular backwards flip, it ended.

A shattered ankle. A year of pins and wire, grafts, casts and crutches. Medals, accolades, the exhilaration of a perfect performance, gone. She’ll be no gymnast.

In this same year I’ve decided to trade soft, flowing skirts for gray pinstripes and a corporate paycheck, to trade a man who was a good father but a bad husband for a man who was a good husband but not much of a father. In this same year, my daughter hobbled one-legged to and from the bus stop through the snow because I could not get time off from work. The job was that important, the life I’d dreamed of just within reach.

The doctor said walking would be good for her ankle, as long as she wore the air cast to keep it from twisting. She managed three miles up the mountain, along a raggedy lake trail, across a wavy slip of a bridge, through the inside-out umbrella-shaped cow parsnips waving higher than she stood, past a roaring cascade of icy water, and up, up above tree line. The crest, so impossible at the start, lay at last within reach.

That’s when she refused to go any farther. But our trail was a bear highway marked by old washed-out signs and fresh brown mounds of seeds and berries. Sometimes I pushed too hard, but I wasn’t the kind of mother to leave her child for bait.

My husband suggested the rock. She’d be safe there, he said. My legs tingled, and I began to shiver in the breeze.

My daughter ripped a patch of moss from the ground and stared down at the green oval lake at the bottom of the trail. “I don’t care what you do.”

She didn’t need me. She didn’t even want me around.

“We may never get this far again,” said the good husband, not-so-good father.

She could rest. I could reach the summit. We’d both get our way. She said nothing as we boosted her up the steep, grainy side of the boulder, then tossed a backpack and bear spray beside her.

The quicker I put distance between us, the sooner I’ll be on my way down. As the tundra thins to glacial rubble, I make myself look forward, not back. Stacks of lichen-covered rocks mark the way, cairns that stretch toward the thickening clouds. The elusive ridge seems more and more distant. Blasting across the empty landscape, wind rakes grit across my face. My calves, knees, thighs and heart labor together as the trail grows steeper, stonier, more difficult. An exhilarating burst of freedom, I tell myself.

The sky darkens. Against my firmest resolve, I glance back. No boulder. No daughter. She is gone from my sight. Now there is no ridge, no summit, no goal. Splattered blood, shredded clothes, bits of bone, and clumps of hair hijack my vision. My only child, my love, my heart. I’ve deserted her. How can I be so selfish?

I call to her not-father, then pivot, stumble, and lurch down the mountain, past one cairn, then another, and another. Rain pelts the rocks, greasing the uneven cobbles, as clouds sheeted with gray begin to close around me. Now there is just the rocky path that leads me back to the little girl I left alone.

Boots skidding, I slip, catch myself, continue. At last it comes into view, near and sure, the flat stone surface, the small “x” of feet, legs, arms, the head hidden beneath a yellow raincoat.

As I reach the rock, a head of matted blond hair pops out from beneath the raincoat.

“Back so soon?” she says.
I try to crawl up, but the stone is slick, and I scrape my knee sliding down. She eases to the edge and jumps off, landing on her good foot. Our hug is brief and sopping. “You stink, Mom,” she says.

I let go, exhausted, relieved. “I love you.”

“Yeah.” She shifts, putting distance between us. “I’m hungry.”

I fetch a smashed granola bar from my pack, a small offering. Clouds bunch at the summit, jagged and bare. It’s raining there too. I can see it from here.