The Visiting Poet


By Julia Spicher Kasdorf

spoke with intonations that come from no place,
peering over half-glasses, “Queen Dido—

you recall her from a high school Latin class
or maybe a Great Books course here?” No

flicker on the white faces beneath ball caps
or bar tour hair-dos, kids who come to college

because they need good jobs. “Um, then…”
the poet stammered. There in the first row:

blanched local beauty with a wasp’s waist
and black eyes, who writes poems of farm

implements rusting in fog, the 'possum stunned
in the lane. She’d rushed to my office that day

to apologize for being late; she had just left
her husband again, trash bag for a suitcase.

She regretted the expensive textbooks left
in his truck, just too many guns on the place

to go back. Brain-injured in Iraq, he patrolled
hedge rows with a rifle until she hid his boots

according to one poem; in another, she woke
to him clutching her throat. In Dido’s Temple,

the frieze of Troy taught Aeneas how to speak
of battle. No wonder the Queen fell for him

before he left Carthage to conquer another place.

Julia Spicher Kasdorf is the author of four books of poetry: Sleeping Preacher; Eve’s Striptease; Poetry in America; and Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields. Her awards include the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, the Great Lakes College’s Association Award for New Writing, a Pushcart Prize, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry.