This brief tale of three women travelers captures the many aspects of far-flung adventures: the anticipation, the surprises, the romance, and the truth that no matter where we go, we take ourselves with us
Each line of this poem is so precise and evocative — innocent valor, shivering stars, wifely tears — to tell a story that’s both tender and brazen. It’s easy to imagine these women (and their modern counterparts) packing their bags to venture into the delicious unknown with an umbrella and a handkerchief.
Constance Urdang (1922-1996) was a native New Yorker. She earned a BA from Smith College, and after graduation, she worked as a military intelligence analyst for the US Department of the Army. In 1956, she received an MFA in writing from the University of Iowa and, with her husband — the poet Donald Finkel — taught at Washington University, where they co-directed the graduate Writers Program. Her output includes seven poetry collections and the novel Natural History, which she described as ‘Not a novel. A series of images in the form of prose episodes. Their meaning, if any, to emerge when at the end one can look back to try and make out the significant patterns.’ This poem is from her collection Only the World, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 1983.
Top image courtesy of Peter Herrmann/Unsplash.
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