One Poem at a Time -28-

They always make you read “The Fish” in school. Yes, it’s a great poem. But when your heart is just beginning to set on fire, this is the Elizabeth Bishop poem that I think resonates a little more than that old, wrinkly fish.


The Shampoo
by Elizabeth Bishop
from The Complete Poems, 1927-1979

The still explosions on the rocks,
the lichens, grow
by spreading, gray, concentric shocks.
They have arranged
to meet the rings around the moon, although
within our memories they have not changed.

And since the heavens will attend
as long on us,
you’ve been, dear friend,
precipitate and pragmatical;
and look what happens.  For Time is
nothing if not amenable.

The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
— Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.

[Listen to an audio clip of Louise Bogan reading “The Mark”.]

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Filed under Poetry Month 2010

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