Dancers Exercising

By Amy Clampitt 1920–1994 Amy Clampitt
Frame within frame, the evolving conversation   
is dancelike, as though two could play   
at improvising snowflakes’
six-feather-vaned evanescence,
no two ever alike. All process
and no arrival: the happier we are,
the less there is for memory to take hold of,   
or—memory being so largely a predilection   
for the exceptional—come to a halt   
in front of. But finding, one evening   
on a street not quite familiar,
inside a gated
November-sodden garden, a building   
of uncertain provenance,
peering into whose vestibule we were   
arrested—a frame within a frame,   
a lozenge of impeccable clarity—
by the reflection, no, not
of our two selves, but of
dancers exercising in a mirror,
at the center
of that clarity, what we saw
was not stillness
but movement: the perfection
of memory consisting, it would seem,   
in the never-to-be-completed.
We saw them mirroring themselves,   
never guessing the vestibule
that defined them, frame within frame,   
contained two other mirrors.

Amy Clampitt, “Dancers Exercising” from The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt. Copyright © 1997 by the Estate of Amy Clampitt. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997)

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Poet Amy Clampitt 1920–1994

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Theater & Dance, Arts & Sciences

 Amy  Clampitt

Biography

Upon publication of her book of poems The Kingfisher in 1983, Amy Clampitt became one of the most highly regarded poets in America. Born in rural Iowa and raised on a farm, she studied first at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and later at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research in New York City. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Clampitt held a variety of jobs and attempted unsuccessfully to write novels, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Theater & Dance, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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