Hooked by Otters
Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell: 1947-1977
She feels angled for when he offers
to record her poems – that microphone,
but she’ll call him Cal — Caliban, Caligula
oh falling fire and piercing cry…
though he’ll never call her Liz.
From Cape Breton she writes of auks, of puffins,
ravens — enormous, with rough black beards
under their beaks. Together they grope for
a language in wildlife,
though being an armadillo, he’s slow to see – replies
puffins are in his book of New England birds;
he’s never seen one, but he’s catching
her drift—hints at further recordings, that if
she comes to Boston in fall, they can go
to galleries or see otters.
Hooked by otters, she re-jigs her diary;
sends a postcard from Key West —
a picture of a sea turtle, describes
a saltwater pool, a marine life, watching
her friends swim about in a sort of green fire
like luminous grass.
He dives in with trout fishing — his grandfather,
Nova Scotia — praises her fish poems, laments
that all his fish become symbols — lobsterman, nets…
gifts her a copy of The Compleat Angler
for Christmas. Someone must be first
to sign off with affection,
though he’ll never find the right moment
to propose, because, like a loon, he needs
so much space — sixty feet to take off from water —
Otter woman, fisher woman
she prefers a burrow
near the water’s edge
Oh Caliban, Caligula
fun it always seemed to leave you a loss.
Hooked by Otters by Wendy Klein was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (March/April 2020) judged by Mandy Pannett.