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 Lineand Mules of Love. Her poems appear  frequently in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and many other journals. Among her awards are Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The NEA, and The California Arts Council, The Lambda Literary Award, and four Pushcart Prizes. She co-edited the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks!, and her nonfiction books include the groundbreaking The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth. 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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