Ellen Bass

cantfindit

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. 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 three 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 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. Source

The World Has Need of You

everything here

seems to need us

Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I can hardly imagine it

as I walk to the lighthouse, feeling the ancient

prayer of my arms swinging

in counterpoint to my feet.

Here I am, suspended

between the sidewalk and twilight,

the sky dimming so fast it seems alive.

What if you felt the invisible

tug between you and everything?

A boy on a bicycle rides by,

his white shirt open, flaring

behind him like wings.

It’s a hard time to be human. We know too much

and too little. Does the breeze need us?

The cliffs? The gulls?

If you’ve managed to do one good thing,

the ocean doesn’t care.

But when Newton’s apple fell toward the earth,

the earth, ever so slightly, fell

toward the apple as well.

Published:

2014

Length:

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

2023

Themes:

Agency

Nature

Poems of the Everyday

Literary Devices:

Metaphor

a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic

Personification

the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered

Simile

a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”