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Poem: She Burned Bright #Mondayblogs #poetry

The following poem was published on The Community Storyboard way back in June 2013.  I confess this re-post is in part because I’m at a loss for new material.  The well runneth dry at the moment.  But another reason is because I’m preparing to take a free online class on how to write poetry.  The course is through the University of Iowa International Writing Program.  You can find more information about by clicking here.

This poem is in memory of Wendy BishopShe was my mentor when I began my master’s in English program back in 1990.  I had a teaching assistantship and she was director of the teaching program, so we had frequent meetings.  I recognized a kindred spirit in her: we had both lived on the West Coast, we both had liberal views relative to those in the region where we now lived, we were close in age, and we were introverts.  But I was intimidated by the depth and breadth of her ever-growing portfolio and shied away at times when I should have been close at her heels.  We kept in touch off and on over the years until she died from leukemia at the young age of 50, in November 2003.  She was always incredibly busy, but always, always smiling and writing.

I miss her still.


They laid their hands side by side

She marveled

At how much alike they were

The one near death

The other nearest life

The one near death

Burned bright

With beach-bleached hair

Sandy skin

A smile an ocean-wide

She burned bright

And hummed through

Dot-matrix printers and laserjets

A low constant hum of life in words

Paper cascading from their mouths

Laid end to end they would circle the earth

And wrap it tight like a silk girdle

She burned bright

Writing more in her one-half-century

Than most could have written in two

She burned bright

The one near death

And marveled at her daughter’s hands, so like her own

She burned . . .

. . . out

And grown men cried

And grown women sighed

And I

who so wanted to be like her, she who burned bright

Stopped breathing



Categories: Poetry

Tagged as:

Marie A Bailey

Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.

32 replies

    1. Thank you, Charles. I really appreciate your comment. I guess one advantage of having been blogging for a long while is I can sort through and find something that maybe most of my followers haven’t yet read. Thank goodness for that 😉


        1. Oh, it will pass. Maybe you just need a break, time to just observe and listen. Jut down notes, observations, thoughts, snippets of conversations. In a class I’m taking right now, one of the poets puts her scrapes of notes into a bowl and then draws them out randomly. It’s one way she creates poems, but I think the same could work for blogging 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jeri! I’m grateful for the time I had with her. I only wish I had believed in myself as much as she seemed to believe in me. But still, I learned so much from her and I do attribute much of my confidence in my writing to her support.


  1. Marie, this is a touching and vibrant tribute. Your words are from the heart, your writing is strong and specific, and you do honor to both your mentor and the friendship and respect that you still have for her.
    This is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so hard to imagine losing a friend to death. I might feel like stopping breathing, too. This was simply lovely and a warm tribute to your wonderful friend, Wendy. Hope you will not worry about re-blogging, since you may have listeners who have never read or heard your words before in such a way, Marie.

    Liked by 1 person

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