Suzanne Manizza Roszak

Migration in Four Acts


They say that through a storm’s arrival a true woman will wear her butterflies. 

Leaves turn themselves over, socks and underwear still on the line. The fabrics discolored, bleached, discolored again.

At some point you’ve been out in the wind. Do not return to the stove; inside is where the wildness is.

Oh ———, stranger, do not accidentally set yourself ablaze. Remember, it is someone’s sixth birthday. The mineral solvents have as low a flashpoint as charcoal starter fluid.

What has all this traveling come to? It is the year when they eat from the dog’s bowl.



So I didn’t love that country my family’s families put on like a bad hand-me-down, their small bodies always swimming. 

I didn’t love it then on the blacktop alone, then under the stark watch of a flagpole, then when they slaughtered my name on the intercom,

then when the right man won the presidency—for who were we kidding; it was always a man—

and when streets and schools and shopping malls erupted anyway with bodies, bodies laid low by shiny white trigger fingers, 

and the summer was ever-hotter and

                             none of us 

                                           could find a 

                                                         way home. 



The counting of all the goods, materials, etc. kept in a place.

Dried black beans. / Dried pinto beans. / Dried kidney beans. // Whole spelt flour. / White spelt flour. / Almond flour. // Honey. / Maple syrup. / Sucanat (since 1978). 

Sheep’s cheese. / Goat milk. / Ghee. // Egg. / Chicken breast. / Chicken skin.  

Nuts. / Teas. // Flat, dried fruits.

Cups for drinking. / Cups for measuring. / Spoons named for gathering spaces. // Blood-red towels (December again). / Branches sawed from trees. / Inedible berries. 

Knife block. / Mallet. / Mortar, pestle. // Plastic lighter. / Match-box. / Candlewax. 

Knobs. / Burners. // Bright blue flame.



I am an animal in a web, a system. Naples opens like an oyster², though I am not there. Apples grow, more-than-human, from horizontal branches: not needing an interpreter.

                             All bodies burn, 

                                           their exploded substance

                                                            burst painfully into meanings.

The butterflies that matter are not the ones on the housedress.

¹ Gibson, James William. A Reenchanted World: The Quest for a New Kinship with Nature. Holt, 2009.
² Iovino, Serenella. “Bodies of Naples: Stories, Matter, and the Landscapes of Porosity.” Material Ecocriticism, edited by Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann, Indiana UP, 2014.


Suzanne Manizza Roszak’s creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Bellingham Review, Burnside Review, Colorado Review, The Journal, New Letters, ROOM, and Verse Daily. Suzanne did her MFA at UC Irvine; today she is an assistant professor of English at the University of Groningen in the north of the Netherlands and an editorial assistant for Seneca Review.