Elizabeth Chapman (nee Janet Elizabeth Burack) has a new collection, Light Thickens, forthcoming from Ashland Poetry Press in Spring, 2009 (Robert McGovern Publication Prize); her prior book, Candlefish, was one of four books chosen by Enid Shomer to inaugurate the University of Arkansas Press Poetry Series (2004). Chapman’s mother, Sylvia K. Burack, '38, known for her dedication to helping writers and editors, was the longtime editor-in-chief and publisher of The Writer, and a crucial early supporter of the Poetry Center at Smith.
Memory of Stanley Kunitz, Northampton
Baskin’s owl stood sentry
in the swamping heat.
The veined elegance of the very old,
and your peony-red plaid shirt
as you took questions—“We are all
living and dying at the same moment”—
The stooped comma
of your shoulders, from fifty years’
toiling in the garden—that long
poem, never finished—
Sliding over themselves, your words
like waves of the sea,
pelagic—“What news of the great
spiral nebula in Andromeda?”—
come back to me. One bite of wild radish;
What news of Creation?
“Touch it anywhere,
and the whole web shudders.”
Yes; true; on that day we were
drawn to your dying,
and this Monday in Spring, the day
of your death pronounced, we ache.