Literature 3-26-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Amy Swing

"What Light: This Week's Poem" is a feature sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers that brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers.

Amy Swing

Little, Red

There’s a wolf. OK, we know that.
And a girl in a red cape, and trees.

And there’s another girl listening
to the story who is also the girl in red

(though her basket is on her bike
so she can ride away.)

What about the wolf? He was hungry
and clever. What else? What

of her mother? Who let her roam
the woods alone, who’s speaking

the story again now? What else
did she see? There must have been

birds–doves, maybe and swallows,
lichen most likely, and mushrooms.

Up close, things that are still seem
to be moving. Maybe she saw

what would make it all worth it–
like two blue bottleflies. Maybe

she stumbled into a clearing,
chapel-like, where she saw herself

reflected in the oddness of the pines,
the bark rough, her skin soft. She wanted

to put her hands through the skins
of things. How could she tell them this?


My poems come mostly from what is around me, often in a physical sense. Trees, rivers, light, rocks, wind, birds come in and out of my work to reflect and define human relationships. These images change as my environment changes, which keeps me reaching for new experiences and landscapes. As a reader and a writer, I quest for poems that unite image and experience, that connect something that hasn’t been connected before.


Amy Jo Swing has lived in Alaska, Texas, Indiana, and Arizona, and currently resides near Duluth, Minnesota. She is a 1996 graduate of the Texas State University San Marcos MFA program and was the recipient of a McKnight Artists Fellowship in Poetry in 1998. She currently teaches at Lake Superior College and lives on twenty acres with her partner, daughter, dog, cat, two goats, and a hive of honey bees.