Annie Woodford: “Flying Kites with Elizabeth Bishop”


          Heaven is not like flying or swimming,

          but has something to do with blackness and a strong glare

          —Elizabeth Bishop

I dreamed her hand was upon the string.

She read the wind, the snap, the swing of paper wings.

But I do not know her deliberate art.

How often did thoughts of her mother’s death

stop the measured music in her head?

I imagine her in a long salon,

the ceiling a series of burnished squares,

windows wide open to the smell of ferns.

Sight hounds sprawl in silken piles at her feet.

When memory aches, she can stroke feathered flanks

and begin again to write.

Cats she had for certain,

with hunter eyes like hers. In one photo, Bishop

and a cat lounge in a hammock chair, the cat

drowsing, the poet looking down at the cat.

An image search returns a girl with long braids,

again looking away, again a cat almost returning our gaze.

Whether this be Bishop or no, the shining hair is

there and something wild, something contained.

She is on a beach battered by wind,

by waves, by sunlight too bright to stare straight at,

black kite flapping against white.

Annie Woodford has publications in Appalachian Heritage, The Normal School, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Prairie Schooner, among others.

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