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Elizabeth Spires

Elizabeth Spires is the author of several poetry collections, including The Wave-Maker (W. W. Norton, 2008), Now the Green Blade Rises (W. W. Norton, 2004), Swan's Island (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1997), and Worldling (W. W. Norton, 1995), winner of the 1996 Whiting Writers’ Award. An acclaimed children’s author, Spires has also published several children’s books as well, such as The Mouse of Amherst (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), about a mouse who lives behind a wall in Emily Dickinson’s room. Her honors include the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry. She teaches at Goucher College and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

By This Poet


On Upnor Road

     Set back from the street behind a stand of trees,
a shuttered house unnoticed by casual passers-by,
     where I see you standing in the middle of your life,
poised to enter a summer evening where there will be
     drinks and then a meal on an old stone terrace,
and it will seem, as the glass of wine is lifted to your lips,
     that no one you know will ever have to die.
All this, of course, has already happened, happened
     many times, never to happen again. In that faraway dark,
two voices softly braid themselves into one murmuring
     conversation, but words spoken so long ago
want to be private. I would not imagine it otherwise.
     Unasked, I have entered a memory I was never part of,
and come face to face with love's leisurely vanished pace.
     Everything's changed. The new owner's cut down trees,
cleared decades of overgrowth to let the light in, and anyone
     passing right now will only see what the too-bright
present wants them to see: a gracious forthright house,
     empty of meaning, sitting overexposed in spring sunlight.