Joan Bauer

Telling My Friend Nancy about the Poet Amy Clampitt
by Joan E. Bauer

Forgive me, she happened to look & think & sound—
rather like you, especially the youthful Amy with beret & pearls

in London. Her voice: fervent & eager, rising in an upcurl
half-an-octave when startled—or surprised.

A birch, not an oak, not a willow,
but rather head-in-the-clouds.

A misfit child in Iowa, lying on the rug, reading.
A Quaker, impatient with authority.

She thought herself no scholar, but had the widest curiosity.
You’d have loved her Greenwich Village where

she met her partner Harold mixing sangria for the Democrats,
wrote angry letters to Kissinger, spent two nights in jail.

But even you will need a dictionary for her poems,
a notepad to diagram the syntax.

Nothing escaped her microscopic focus:
Not beach glass & owls, migraines & kudzu.

Remember when we camped in Acadia?
You could name every leafy twig, the smallest sea urchin.

Even now, Nancy, I know you’d drop everything
to listen to a hermit thrush.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 4.

Joan BauerJoan E. Bauer was born in Los Angeles, and for some years, taught English and journalism in public and independent schools. With Judith Robinson and Sankar Roy, she co-edited Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami (Bayeux Arts, 2005). In 2007, she won the Earle Birney Poetry Prize from Prism International, and her chapbook, Another Country, was published by Pudding House Publications.

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