Al Young title

JEAN PUMPHREY (1931-2014) In Memoriam

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Jean Pumphrey 2008

YOU SIGHED AND SMILED OUT FROM AN ISLAND

In memory of Jean Pumphrey (1931-2014)

You sighed and smiled out from an island

culture and nature still treasure, still bless.

Yes, Jean, who else can this mean but you,

blushing Audrey of the hungering heart,

a sucker for artistry and art? You taught

the same way you fought dark ignorance

in Saint Matthew’s realm. Your sweet secret:

let silenced light shine — around the body

poetry loves; not bodies of seawater, not astral.

No body of experts. Bodies. Just the light

around the body poet Robert Bly got the blues

about, right around the time we met, San Mateo,

the 1970s, just when the mythic Sixties kicked in

and scared out the sacred from us, what little hell

we had left. We loved Bly’s blues. Ears wide open

to cries in all keys, you listened. You let pupils,

patients set the beat. Spirit-leashed, your god-dog,

Rumi, ushered you through blinding nights.

You uttered peace. Sheltered at the edge, the light

around the body longs to leak and blend with all

it knows it is. You told us, Jean, you sighed, you

smiled, you lived to reach and teach, to touch to heal.

— Al Young

© 2015 Al Young

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Photo: Kindness of Strangers

Poets Al Young, Jean Pumphrey and Glenna Luschei | San Francisco 2008

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