A poem by William Heyen

That Summer
I walked on the pond, a sheet of ice.
Through the clear diamond,
I saw a face pressing upward, & then others.

I’d always wondered where they were,
had almost heard them, all summer,
among dragonflies & lilies, or deeper,

But they wouldn’t, or couldn’t, show themselves
in their long fingernails & hair,
their cheeks & lips mooning upward…
I’d try to name them—Swimmers, Insistent Ones,
Wandervogel, Onan’s Children—
but they keep their own dimensions. That summer,

I’d come to the pond where they were born,
guilty, beautiful, lonely for body,
their soulful voices, my first songs.


William Heyen is Professor of English/Poet in Residence Emeritus at the College at Brockport, his undergraduate alma mater. He received his Ph. D. from Ohio University, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from SUNY. A former Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American Literature in Germany, he has received NEA, Guggenheim, American Academy of Arts and Letters, and other awards.  His work has appeared in hundreds of anthologies, and in The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Harper’s, The Atlantic, The Southern Review, and numerous other magazines.

He is the editor or author of more than thirty books including Noise in the Trees, an American Library Association Notable Book for 1975; Crazy Horse in Stillness, winner of 1997’s Small Press Book Award for Poetry; Shoah Train: Poems, a Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award; A Poetics of Hiroshima, a Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle selection for 2010. Three new books of poetry (Straight’s Suite for Craig Cotter & Frank O’Hara, The Football Corporations, and Hiroshima Suite) and the first four volumes of his massive journal (The Cabin, Hannelore, Poker & Poets, Too Many Angels), appeared 2013-2016 as did Crazy Horse & the Custers which includes 35 paintings in response to his poems by DeLoss McGraw. Etruscan Press published The Candle, a volume of 45 years of his Holocaust poetry, in 2016. The Candle was a main CLSC selection for 2017.

Painting: Pond near Springfield, Ohio, 1924, oil on canvas by German American artist Oscar Grosch (1863–1928).

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