By Ellen Bryant Voigt b. 1943
In the still morning when you move   
toward me in sleep for love,   
I dream of

an island where long-stemmed cranes,   
serious weather vanes,   
turn slowly on one

foot. There the dragonfly folds   
his mica wings and rides   
the tall reed

close as a handle. The hippo yawns,   
nods to thick pythons,
slack and drowsy, who droop down

like untied sashes
from the trees. The brash   
hyenas do not cackle

and run but lie with their paws   
on their heads like dogs.   
The lazy crow’s caw

falls like a sigh. In the field   
below, the fat moles build   
their dull passage with an old

instinct that needs
no light or waking; its slow beat   
turns the hand in sleep

as we turn toward each other   
in the ripe air of summer,   
before the change of weather,

before the heavy drop   
of the apples.

Ellen Bryant Voigt, “Tropics” from Claiming Kin. Copyright © 1976 by Ellen Bryant Voigt. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press,

Source: Claiming Kin (1976)

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Poet Ellen Bryant Voigt b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Nature, Summer, Trees & Flowers, Animals

Occasions Anniversary

 Ellen Bryant Voigt


Ellen Bryant Voigt grew up on her family's farm in rural Virginia. She earned her BA from Converse College and MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her most recent collections include Headwaters (2013), Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006, and Shadow of Heaven (2002).

Bryant Voigt studied piano when she was a child, not turning to poetry until a friend in college introduced her to poems by E.E. Cummings and Rilke. She . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Summer, Trees & Flowers, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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