As part of our ongoing celebration of the magazine’s fiftieth year in print, we asked Ellen Bass and Danusha Laméris to choose a poem by the other for this month’s Dog-Eared Page. We start with a conversation in which they discuss their shared history and why they selected the poems that follow.
The Big Picture
I try to look at the big picture. / The sun, ardent tongue / licking us like a mother besotted / with her new cub, will wear itself out. / Everything is transitory.
After my brother died, his wife was sure he was living / inside their cat, Rocky. He’s in there, she’d say, staring into / those blank, yellow eyes. Isma’il? Isma’il? Can you hear me?
Once, two women hiked a volcano, / stood on the lip, and watched the fire / move in the crater’s mouth.January 2020
They talked about it while soaking in an unusually deep / red tub at his rented house. How the constellations / had gone out of their way to align, so that their paths / converged for a time in the redwoods, in a shingled / cottage above the creek.May 2018
After my brother died, his wife was sure he was living / inside their cat, Rocky. He’s in there, she’d say, staring into / those blank, yellow eyes. Isma’il? Isma’il? Can you hear me?May 2017
The optometrist says my eyes / are getting better each year. / Soon he’ll have to lower my prescription. / What’s next? The light step I had at six?August 2015
When I see my friend’s little girl / in the produce aisle, she beams, “I’m happy. / I have new red tights and a boyfriend!”March 2014
Don’t you wish they would stop, / all the thoughts swirling around in your head like / bees in a hive, dancers tapping their way across the stage?September 2013
Don’t you remember them, the furred legs / of a caterpillar moving along your arm, each follicle / prickling beneath their touch?August 2013
I never called her back, the woman / with the two babies born just like mine: / girls who couldn’t crawl or talk, / could barely smile, who lay there, / bundled in flowered dresses, staring / at the ceiling.June 2013
— from “Eve, After” | Did she know / there was more to life / than lions licking the furred / ears of lambs, / fruit trees dropping / their fat bounty, / the years droning on / without argument?May 2013
Do they ever want to escape? / Climb out of the curved white pages / and enter our world?November 2009
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