Ever-Changing Song

First a spout
bursting through

all that blue with the sun clanging on it,
then a slope,

wheeling, almost slowly,
through the blue air, and four times—

or maybe five—I see her dive,
the dark fluke flaring,

silhouetted, raised heavy for a moment into all that light.
If I paddled a canoe or could swim that far, we might meet,

her great eye opening to my small one, each cornea
bending the light,

setting off the translation into vision, gazing
into the dark pupil of the other.

Ellen Bass’s most recent collection, Indigo, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Her other poetry books include Like a Beggar, The Human Line, and Mules of Love. A Chancellor Emerita of the Academy of American Poets, Bass founded poetry workshops at Salinas Valley State Prison and the Santa Cruz, California, jails and teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.


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