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About this poet

Debra Nystrom is the author of four collections of poetry: Night Sky Frequencies and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016), Bad River Road (Sarabande Books, 2009), Torn Sky (Sarabande Books, 2003), and A Quarter Turn (Sheep Meadow Press, 1991). She is the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Research Fellowship, two Virginia Commission for the Arts Individual Fellowships in Poetry, and a Library of Virginia Literary Award. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Floater

—to Dan

Maddening shadow across your line of vision—
what might be there, then isn't, making it

hard to be on the lookout, concentrate, even 
hear—well, enough of the story I've

given you, at least—you've had your fill, never
asked for this, though you were the one

to put a hand out, catch hold, not about to let me
vanish the way of the two you lost already

to grief's lure.  I'm here; close your eyes,
listen to our daughter practicing, going over and over

the Bach, getting the mordents right, to make the lovely
Invention definite.  What does mordent mean,

her piano teacher asked—I was waiting in the kitchen 
and overheard—I don't know, something about dying?

No; morire means to die, mordere means to take
a bite out of something—good mistake, she said.

Not to die, to take a bite—what you asked 
of me—and then pleasure

in the taking. Close your eyes now,
listen. No one is leaving.

From Bad River Road by Debra Nystrom. Copyright © 2009 by Debra Nystrom. Used by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bad River Road by Debra Nystrom. Copyright © 2009 by Debra Nystrom. Used by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc. All rights reserved.

Debra Nystrom

Debra Nystrom is the author of Night Sky Frequencies and Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2016).