For Elizabeth Bishop

By Sandra McPherson b. 1943 Sandra McPherson
The child I left your class to have   
Later had a habit of sleeping   
With her arms around a globe
She’d unscrewed, dropped, and dented.
I always felt she could possess it,   
The pink countries and the mauve
And the ocean which got to keep its blue.
Coming from the Southern Hemisphere to teach,   
Which you had never had to do, you took
A bare-walled room, alone, its northern   
Windowscapes as gray as walls.
To decorate, you’d only brought a black madonna.
I thought you must have skipped summer that year,   
Southern winter, southern spring, then north
For winter over again. Still, it pleased you
To take credit for introducing us,
And later to bring our daughter a small flipbook
Of partners dancing, and a ring   
With a secret whistle. —All are
Broken now like her globe, but she remembers   
Them as I recall the black madonna   
Facing you across the room so that   
In a way you had the dark fertile life   
You were always giving gifts to.   
Your smaller admirer off to school,   
I take the globe and roll it away: where   
On it now is someone like you?

Sandra McPherson, “For Elizabeth Bishop” from Patron Happiness (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970). Copyright © 1983 by Sandra McPherson. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Patron Happiness (Ecco Press, 1983)

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Poet Sandra McPherson b. 1943

Subjects Religion, Travels & Journeys, School & Learning, Parenthood, Living, Activities

Occasions Funerals

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

 Sandra  McPherson


Sandra McPherson weaves vivid images culled from nature into what Contemporary Women Poets contributor David Young characterizes as "rich, complex, and deeply satisfying poems." In collections that include the National Book Award-nominated The Year of Our Birth, 1988's At the Grave of Hazel Hall, and 1996's Edge Effect: Trails and Portrayals, McPherson has increasingly honed her unsentimental, insightful verse, imbuing it with . . .

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SUBJECT Religion, Travels & Journeys, School & Learning, Parenthood, Living, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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