“the upswept fog bank of her hair”: J. D. McClatchy’s “Three Dreams about Elizabeth Bishop”

Three Dreams about Elizabeth Bishop

Do you suppress the urge to roll your eyes whenever someone mentions “the crazy dream I had last night?” I know I do, or at least I sure hope so, since I don’t like offending people unnecessarily. Rarely are dreams of interest to anyone but the dreamers themselves (and psychoanalysts, I suppose).

The same holds true in fiction—I’ve been known to scan quickly through dream descriptions, looking for the “real” action to start—but recently I read a poem about dreams that I loved: J.D. McClatchy’s “Three Dreams about Elizabeth Bishop.” 

The poem’s three sections (for the three dreams) are packed with memorable images and lines, from the description of Bishop lying in state (like Lenin) and her eyes fluttering as Robert Lowell speaks to her (while the speaker looks on as a memorial wreath) to the “upswept fog bank of her hair” to the homely sight of two mugs with last night’s gin left on a deck come morning.

This is a poem I’ll come back to.

What do you think of the poem? Are there any poems about dreams that you like?