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About this poet

Born in Berwyn, IL on January 27, 1943 after growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Sarah Getty graduated from Stanford University, and has a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a Poet in the Schools, has led creative writing workshops for the Bedford Center for the Arts and the Bedford Free Public Library, and teaches the writing of poetry and fiction in her living room.

Sarah’s second book of poems, Bring Me Her Heart (Higganum Hill Books, 2006), was released to critical acclaim. Her first collection, The Land of Milk and Honey (University of South Carolina Press, 2002), won a Cambridge Poetry Award in 2002.

In 2004, she also received the New England Poetry Club’s Barbara Bradley Award. Her poem “Ciphers” has been set to music by Adam Grossman. Anthologies carrying Sarah’s work include Birds in the Hand, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004). In July, 2006 she lead a poetry workshop as Poet-in-Residence at the Villa Vergiliana near Naples, Italy.

She lives in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Presbyopia

Sarah Getty, 1943
Old eyes, but wiser, says the Greek.  You lose sight of guide-
	lines: I before E, Every Good Boy
	Does Fine, Insert Tab A in Slot B.
Things arrive, at this late date, unlabelled.  All that book-

	learning a waste now--even your mate,
at close range, blurs, becomes a surface with a taste.  
Unlettered, you take up jungle tactics, sniff and grope.
	You might regress to tom-toms, but who

would answer?  Puzzles crowd your path like carnivorous
	plants; your hand goes crazy, writing checks
	to New England Telepath and Faust
National Bunk.  Your grocery list asks for the "apple 

	of life," then "ravishes, letups, grace." 
A meaning leans in with a wink--a wing-beat and it's
off into the mist.  Is a message mixed with all this
	mystery--advice from the next life

for folks who are losing their focus on this one? 
	Is your own hand the medium, patched
	in to paradise, scribe for Something
Higher?  If so, is it advisable to heed it--

	"fix radiances, take out paupers"?    
Not likely, after the time spent getting sensible.
Even uncoded, the Word will turn out some old saw,
	no doubt:  "Love thy neighbor," or "Buy low,

sell high."  You'll try to apply it, but it won't win 
	any prize.  Suppose, though, there's a clue
	in the works, something useful.  Like, "You
there, heads up!  Nothing on paper can save you!  Watch that

	horizon, out where the sea might be."
A tip to heed, if that's the reading.  Indeed, you've had
suspicions--glimpses of something gallumphing there, whiffs
	of the foul or fishy, creeping up

the beach.  You can almost see it now, like a squid, but
	bigger.  Keep an eye out, while there's time
	to imagine alternatives.  Keep
reading the signs: "Deaf End," "Private Poverty," "Wet Pain..."

From The Land of Milk and Honey, by Sarah Getty, published by the University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Sarah Getty. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Sarah Getty

Sarah Getty

The publication of her second collection of poems brought Sarah Getty much critical praise and nominations for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

by this poet

poem
Look! A flash of orange along the river's edge--
"oriole!" comes to your lips like instinct, then
it's vanished--lost in the foliage,

in all your head holds, getting on with the day.  
But not gone for good. There is that woman    	
walks unseen beside you with her apron
  
pockets full.  Days later, or years,
poem
A round white troll with a black, greasy  
heart shuddered and hummed "Diogenes,  
Diogenes," while it sloshed the wash.  
It stayed in the basement, a cave-dank
place I could only like on Mondays,
helping mother.  My job was stirring
the rinse.  The troll hummed.  Its wringer stuck
out each piece of laundry
poem
The deer—neck not birch trunk, eyes
not leaf or shadow, comes clear
from nowhere at the eye's edge.
The woman's legs stop.  Her mind
lags, then flashes, "Deer at edge
of the woods."  The deer's eyes, black
and fragile, stare back and stop

her breathing.  The breeze drops.  Light
shines every leaf.  She enters