“If Death Were a Woman,” Ellen Kort: Update: Remembering a Fine Poet

UPDATE: The wonderful Ellen Kort has passed last Tuesday, sadly. Our condolences to all her family, friends, and fans. And “fans” includes me. I will post more of her work in the future.

Every day it seems I discover a new, amazing poet — one of the perks of National Poetry Month. Ellen Kort is all that and more, a unique and beautiful voice that I find gives meaning to the word “enriching,” as if I’d found a treasure with properties of magic. This seems to be one of her most-loved poems, with good reason.

If Death Were a Woman

I’d want her to come for me
smelling of cinnamon wearing
bright cotton purple maybe hot
pink a red bandana in her hair
She’d bring good coffee papaya juice
bouquet of sea grass saltine crackers
and a lottery ticket We’d dip
our fingers into moist pouches
of lady’s slippers crouch down to see
how cabbages feel when wind bumps
against them in the garden
We’d walk through Martin’s woods
find the old house its crumbling
foundation strung with honeysuckle
and in the front yard a surprise
jonquils turning the air yellow
glistening and ripe still blooming
for a gardener long gone We’d head
for the beach wearing strings of shells
around our left ankles laugh
at their ticking sounds the measured
beat that comes with dancing
on hard-packed sand the applause
of ocean and gulls She’d play
ocarina songs to a moon almost full
and I’d sing off-key We’d glide
and swoop become confetti of leaf fall
all wings floating on small whirlwinds
never once dreading the heart
silenced drop And when it was time
she would not bathe me Instead
we’d scrub the porch pour leftover
water on flowers stand a long time
in sun and silence then holding hands
we’d pose for pictures in the last light

from If Death Were a Woman (1994)
Ellen Kort

6 thoughts on ““If Death Were a Woman,” Ellen Kort: Update: Remembering a Fine Poet

  1. I agree, Siham, what an amazing poem! Thanks for posting it. This is a poet I will have to look for.
    Best wishes,


  2. Ellen passed away just this past Tuesday. She was an amazing woman and an inspiration to those of us blessed to have been her students.


    • Oh, what terribly sad news, Ronda! Thanks so much for letting me know. May she rest in peace and may her beautiful poetry keep her spirit alive.
      She left behind a fine legacy to the world.
      Condolences and peace,


  3. Beautiful! I can read it over and over. I am missing my friend, a legend in my eyes. I cannot wait to learn more about her life and will always love her dearly. Rhonda had made a huge Impression. The time we spent was too short for I have only known her less than 2 years. Thank God for those 2 years and the moments we shared that I will treasure forever

    Liked by 1 person

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