To a Friend Who Reads Poetry; First Ride; & Familiar Patterns

To a Friend Who Reads Poetry

 for Muriel Rukeyser


She was so wonderful,

Large in every way,

Her voice out

Of that deep and ample chest,


Her eyes, steady

In an unsteadying way.

Large in spirit, a passion

Writ bold on the gestures of her face.


You would have loved each other.

I can imagine the two of you

Meeting. Or maybe I can’t imagine that.

You would have talked


And immediately you would have

Held each other. Her face

And eyes would have made you crazy—

And yours, her. Crazy was okay


For her to share. But how did that spirit

Expire? Where did she go?

I can hear the way she said, “Oh, good.”

She always said that.


She came to me in a dream last night.

She was with you.

Daniel Halpern is the author of nine collections of poetry. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Editor’s Award from Poets and Writers and the Maxwell Perkins Award from the Center for Fiction. He taught in Columbia University’s MFA program and co-founded the National Poetry Series. Halpern was editor and co-founder of Antaeus, the publisher of Ecco, and is now executive editor at Knopf.