On Meeting Elizabeth Bishop

posted Jun 2, 2009

We met at night not far
from Boston Harbor.
We had just stepped out
of the same restaurant,
a classy joint with a blue
crab snapping up at the moon.
She smiled at me when I
introduced myself and it
made me feel for a moment
like I was back in
second grade at St. Mary’s
standing before a pleased
Sister Ellen as I finished
reciting The Apostle’s Creed.
I kissed Ms. Bishop’s hand
politely, then asked her
how she was. She said "Fine,
you know, it’s always fine."
I praised the evening with
its agreeable breeze,
the perfection of her salt-and-
pepper hair, and the casual
mystery of her verse, but
I didn’t comment on her skirt
which looked relatively
tight and surprisingly
appealing on a woman of
her age. It wasn’t long
before she had to be going.
We nodded to each other
in careful symmetry.
Then we turned and walked
our separate ways
away from the night with
its seafood smells and its
barges being filled
like memory’s dark cells.

Scott Keeney is the author of Sappho Does Hay(na)ku. His work has appeared in Court Green, Columbia Poetry Review, Poetry East, and other literary magazines.

We’ve published three more poems by Keeney: “On Meeting John Ashbery,” “On Meeting Charles Wright,” and “On Meeting Charles Simic.”