For Elizabeth Bishop

By Sandra McPherson

The child I left your class to have   
Later had a habit of sleeping   
With her arms around a globe
She’d unscrewed, dropped, and dented.
I always felt she could possess it,   
The pink countries and the mauve
And the ocean which got to keep its blue.
Coming from the Southern Hemisphere to teach,   
Which you had never had to do, you took
A bare-walled room, alone, its northern   
Windowscapes as gray as walls.
To decorate, you’d only brought a black madonna.
I thought you must have skipped summer that year,   
Southern winter, southern spring, then north
For winter over again. Still, it pleased you
To take credit for introducing us,
And later to bring our daughter a small flipbook
Of partners dancing, and a ring   
With a secret whistle. —All are
Broken now like her globe, but she remembers   
Them as I recall the black madonna   
Facing you across the room so that   
You were always giving gifts to.   
Your smaller admirer off to school,   
I take the globe and roll it away: where   
On it now is someone like you?
The child I left your class to have   
Later had a habit of sleeping   
With her arms around a globe
She’d unscrewed, dropped, and dented.
I always felt she could possess it,   
The pink countries and the mauve
And the ocean which got to keep its blue.
Coming from the Southern Hemisphere to teach,   
Which you had never had to do, you took
A bare-walled room, alone, its northern   
Windowscapes as gray as walls.
To decorate, you’d only brought a black madonna.
I thought you must have skipped summer that year,   
Southern winter, southern spring, then north
For winter over again. Still, it pleased you
To take credit for introducing us,
And later to bring our daughter a small flipbook
Of partners dancing, and a ring   
With a secret whistle. —All are
Broken now like her globe, but she remembers   
Them as I recall the black madonna   
Facing you across the room so that   
You were always giving gifts to.   
Your smaller admirer off to school,   
I take the globe and roll it away: where   
On it now is someone like you?