Editor’s note: The death of a friend, Ann Richman, reminds me of the fragile and relentless nature of time. Yesterday, Ann was co-editing The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and co-publishing The Sow’s Ear Press. Today, I read her work in a new light.

Ann was always more than gracious with her friendship and lucid with her literary eye. When she spoke of my work – or anyone’s, for that matter – her advice was always unpretentious and accurate. I listened, and became a better poet.

Here is one of Ann’s poems – deceptive in its beauty and simplicity – that speaks to the loss of her friend, the poet Ralph Coleman. This poem can be read on so many levels – personal, historical, scientific, literary. Ultimately, I read the lines as an expression of the creative process. Art possesses a great hunger: to live on in the wake of loss. Ann’s poem, deftly and quietly, gives life to her words. When I read this poem, I hear Ann’s voice – from a chair by the window – among poet friends on a Thursday evening – the air steamed with possibility.

Ann F. Richman
( 1929 - 2005 )
Playing for Keeps
for Ralph Coleman

A mockingbird lights
in the tip of a maple
that bends in the wind
like a child-ridden sapling.
The bird rides the tree
in an arc to the east
then back and east again
using what is given
and for love of swinging;
singing songs of other birds,
an actor in a treetop
elucidates the wind.

Originally appearing in Playing for Keeps, by Ann F. Richman (Caney Creek Press, 2005)

Current Issue - Winter 2006