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M. Cynthia Cheung


The Sand-People of Sutton Hoo


Adjacent to the royal barrows,

archeologists find another burial ground.

Each grave opened is a squared off pit

where the dead seem idle,

or interrupted. For instance,

that one, his skull—separate

from his neck—grins

between his knees. Here, a woman

appears the way I might look

if I laid down quietly

and died. If a warm hand

then pressed closed my eyes

and wiped everything else away.

To be forgiven.

I lean in for a closer inspection.

No, her head is also unlatched,

carefully turned

facedown, facing hell.



After the thaw, I come across a twisted 

sinew in the grass. Silently, sun rips 

open the muck, cracks the remains

into strange letters. And what 

should I read in them? 


Nothing seems familiar this spring.

I find my way down the roadside ditches, 

to the slack water where whole 

petty kingdoms once scabbed the shore. And there, 

when the moon opens its cold eye, 

I find the river god who has died 

a thousand times. His voice scrapes

along the edge: I believe in my 

abandonment…it is what I have.¹

My reflection drains; his shadow 

lifts itself from the ground. I can still see

the small shred of pelt—gray-brown, anonymous—

rippling as if under another god’s hand.

 ¹from Geoffrey Hill’s “Funeral Music”

The Sand-People of Sutton HooM. Cynthia Cheung
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TerminusM. Cynthia Cheung
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M. Cynthia Cheung is a physician whose poems can be found in The Baltimore Review, Four Way Review, Pleiades, RHINO, swamp pink, SWWIM Everyday, Tupelo Quarterly and others. She is the recipient of an Idyllwild Arts Writers Week fellowship, and was a finalist in the Sunken Garden Chapbook Poetry Prize and the Snowbound Chapbook Award, both from Tupelo Press, as well as finalist and semi-finalist in the Two Sylvias Chapbook Prize and the Black River Chapbook Competition from Black Lawrence Press, respectively. She serves as a judge for Baylor College of Medicine’s annual Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards.

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