We were saddened at The Writer’s Center to learn of the recent passing of Cicely Angleton, poet, long-time workshop participant and generous supporter of the Center, and a member of our Honorary Board. She was 89 years old.
Author of A Cave of Overwhelming (2005) and Selected Poems (2007) and a contributor to Inventory (2008), an anthology on aging, Cicely also earned a Ph.D. in medieval history. Yet the landscape of her poetry transcends formality and, as her friend and fellow poet Barbara Goldberg has commented, reflects the free spirit of a woman “who no longer played by the rules-even poetic rules.” Rich with the images of the Arizona landscape in which she grew up, many of her poems, such as the one printed below, reflect a keen sensitivity to her surroundings.
We will miss Cicely a great deal. Many who knew her well have expressed that they can hardly imagine the Center, or the Washington literary scene, without her.
Sojourner in a Strange Land
After the burnt-out light bulb of the day
it’s time to arrange my feelings on a hanger
leaving them in the closet
next to a slew of mothballs,
and more or less fastening the door.
I start to close my eye, letting one bar of light
sneak inside the premises of the horizon line.
Any hello there, wandering around this monochrome?
One red apple rolling toward me?
a child in swaddling clothes?
Musical notes, high pitched and unexpected,
begin in my right ear, followed by the distant screech
of train whistles in the desert somewhere between Bisbee
and Douglas, Arizona. Lonely noises, interrupted by a flashing
meteor for a moment only, just before the closet door unfastens
and everything is lying on the floor.