Now She’s Doing a Bird (More Notes for Al Stephens Project

by jkatejohnston

These days when I think about Al Stephens, Fran is just as much in my mind. Most of my favorite poems by him have her in them. One time I was at a barbecue, and Fran and Al were there. I sat by Al, and Fran was across the room in animated conversation. Al was looking at her, and I followed his glance. The room was full of voices. She gestured quickly to her nose, her shoulders, her sides. We couldn’t hear what she said. Al leaned over and said, “Now she’s doing a bird.” (They were bird-watchers.)

High Summer
She moved so fast
sometimes — in the house
and out and back in
in one rush — but unruffled —
just from her usual
abounding energy
that one time
the dog sat up
and began barking
from sheer excitement.

Alan Stephens, Collected Poems, 11,