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Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Laure-Anne Bosselaar met Tom in 1991 at Warren Wilson College, where he was one of her mentors. After she graduated, Tom invited Kurt and Laure-Anne to teach at the MFA program he directed at Sarah Lawrence College. During the decades that followed, Laure-Anne would cook dinner, and for interminable evenings, those three would talk poetry and more poetry, elbows on the kitchen table. When Kurt and Tom unfailingly switched talk to the Red Sox, Laure-Anne would tip-toe to bed.   

Beep Three Long & Loud Beeps

Tom and Kurt Brown (my late husband) had been friends since the late 70s. So even before I actually met Tom in the early 90s, I already knew many stories about him. But this one particularly touched me. 

Because Tom so absolutely loved his daughter Claudia, who lived in Boston with her mother, Tom wanted to be part of her life as much and as often as he could. So although he taught poetry at Sarah Lawrence College (200 miles away from Boston), Tom commuted back and forth to Bronxville every week. And this for 14 years! Fourteen years! So, each week he would have to drive through Hartford, CT, the city where Wallace Stevens lived and wrote until his passing in 1955. And each time, at a specific place on a bridge, he would "beep three long and loud beeps to say hello to Wallace Stevens." Tom told us this story one evening around our kitchen table in Cambridge, where Kurt and I lived at the time. A few months later, Kurt and I were on our way to a reading in New York when he suddenly turned to me and asked: "Ready?!" And before I could ask for what, Kurt slammed his hand on the steering wheel's center and beeped three long and loud beeps. 

So you—who read this—if and when you drive through Hartford, CT, keep that tradition going. In memory of Tom.

And this, briefly: Tom and I were sharing a reading one evening. We were sitting together on the first row, when he leaned over to me and whispered: "Can you believe those knuckleheads are actually going to pay us for this?" And during our 27-year-long friendship, he would say that again, from time to time—and seriously swearing, å la Thomas Lux of course. As in: "Cupcake, can you fucking believe that those knuckleheads pay us to do what we love best? We should pay them!"

Upon Seeing an Ultrasound Photo of an Unborn Child

Tadpole, it's not time yet to nag you
about college (though I have some thoughts
on that), baseball (ditto), or abstract
principles. Enjoy your delicious,
soupy womb-warmth, do some rolls and saults
(it'll be too crowded soon), delight in your early
dreams — which no one will attempt to analyze.
For now: may your toes blossom, your fingers
lengthen, your sexual organs grow (too soon
to tell which yet) sensitive, your teeth
form their buds in their forming jawbone, your already
booming heart expand (literally
now, metaphorically later); O your spine,
eyebrows, nape, knees, fibulae,
lungs, lips... But your soul,
dear child: I don't see it here, when
does that come in, whence? Perhaps God,
and your mother, and even I — we'll all contribute
and you'll learn yourself to coax it
from wherever: your soul, which holds your bones
together and lets you live
on earth. — Fingerling, sidecar, nubbin,
I'm waiting, it's me, Dad,
I'm out here. You already know
where Mom is. I'll see you more directly
upon arrival. You'll recognize
me — I'll be the tall-seeming, delighted
blond guy, and I'll have
your nose.



from The Drowned River, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990


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