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About this poet

Born in 1949 in Concord, Massachusetts, Erica Funkhouser studied at Vassar College and Stanford University. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including: Earthly (Houghton Mifflin, 2008); Pursuit (2002); Sure Shot and Other Poems (1992); and Natural Affinities (1983).

She was a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Foundation grant for poetry. She has also worked as a playwright.

She lives in Essex, Massachusetts and teaches poetry-writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tenderness

Erica Funkhouser
Last night the animals 
beneath her window 
crept out of hiding 
to comb the dirt 
from each other's fur.

Rising to watch, 
she discovered the lilacs 
lit from below by ivory vinca. 
The street on the other side 
of the trees continued 
to contain its passing cars; 
tenderly her teeth 
let her tongue rest 
against their curving backs.

Tonight when she lies 
in bed again, 
she will remember 
the one kind thing 
her grown daughter said today 
after weeks of scrutiny,

and the moment at work 
just now, when a stack 
of Day-Glo folders 
cascaded over her desk, 
thrilling the white cubicle
with their descent.

Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 2002 by Erica Funkhouser. All rights reserved.

Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 2002 by Erica Funkhouser. All rights reserved.

Erica Funkhouser

Erica Funkhouser

Raised in Concord, Massachusetts, Erica Funkhouser studied at Vassar College and Stanford University

by this poet

poem
With age   
mirage
assuages
what the youthful eye  
would have studied
until identified—
chicory? bluebird? debris?  
Today no nomenclature
ruptures
the composure
of a chalk-blue haze
pausing, even dawdling,
now and then trembling
over what I'm going to call
fresh water.
poem
The women who clean fish are all named Rose
or Grace.  They wake up close to the water,
damp and dreamy beneath white sheets,
thinking of white beaches.

It is always humid where they work.
Under plastic aprons, their breasts
foam and bubble.  They wear old clothes
because the smell will never go.

On the floor