Rita Dove (1952-) was born in Akron, Ohio. She read passionately as a child, and she writes, “When I was young, I ran the day to its knees. There were trees to swing on, crickets for capture. I can remember the trees I climbed and the noisy crickets out my window at night.” She won the 1987 Pulitzer for Thomas and Beulah, a collection of poems about her grandparents. She was made Poet Laureate in 1994, and has won numerous awards. She writes of common experience — yet with mystery:
The Secret Garden
I was ill, lying on my bed of old papers,
when you came with white rabbits in your arms;
and the doves scattered upwards, flying to mothers,
and the snails sighed under their baggage of stone . . .
Now your tongue grows like celery between us;
Because of our love‑cries, cabbage darkens in its nest;
the cauliflower thinks of her pale, plump children
and turns greenish‑white in a light like the ocean's.
I was sick, fainting in the smell of teabags,
when you came with tomatoes, a good poetry.
I am being wooed. I am being conquered
by a cliff of limestone that leaves chalk on my breasts.
Further Reading: Selected Poems, by Rita Dove,1993; Pantheon Books.
The Darker Face of the Earth: a verse play in fourteen scenes, by Rita Dove,1994; Story Line Press, both in our library.
Coming in August: Richard Wilbur