Ingrid Wendt--Poet/Teacher/Editor

To order any of the following books, please click on the titles and, again, below the cover images.

1. Poetry
"These poems, full of feeling, reward the reader with their musicality and wit. ... The first and last poems are capstones of a rich collection. -- Maxine Kumin
"There is such a bounty of startling grace and wisdom in Ingrid Wendt's new book, that the reader can only be stunned by, and grateful for, this abundance." --Maurya Simon
"These poems, shaped by tender and exacting labor, have the heft of hewn stone and the lift of blown glass."
-Marilyn Krysl
"This is wonderful poetry--moving and unforgettable.
-Janet McCann
"Ingrid Wendt has a powerful, womanly feel for the intertwinings of love, pleasure, grief."
-Alicia Ostriker
Selected by William Stafford for the New Poets of America Series, BOA Editions
2. Magazine Articles
Read Ingrid Wendt's article published in the March, 2011, online newsletter of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
3. Teaching guide
Now in its 5th printing, this teaching guide for grades K-college has been adopted by teachers and school districts nationwide and abroad.
4. Anthology/Textbook
“An important contribution to the resurrection of the lost history of women in the arts.”
-Publishers Weekly
5. Anthology
“... confirms Oregon’s place as a powerful outpost in Northwest literature.”
-Paul Pintarich, The Oregonian

Moving the House

Four poems from Moving the House: "Remembering Breughel’s Massacre of the Innocents," "Feeling Dry," "Having Given Birth," "Dust."


Remembering Breughel’s “Massacre of the Innocents”

I should have known it hung there, in Vienna. But home
was the place for warnings of strangeness, of not
taking rides, or candy. With me now
even wieners from butcher shop owners were safe.
Together now we were climbing palatial
marble steps, the guidebook having said
nothing of archways twice
as high as our house, completely studded
with color, real gold-covered crossbeams,
a ceiling of painted-on seasons of glory: each hair
on each head (as my father would say) so precise
you could see it, assuming you could get close
as the artists had, hanging there day after day
for months, their dangers of falling so far removed
from our journey past sculptures on landings
to canvas in far-off rooms.

I would have stared upward longer but you
were obsessed with the head of Medusa in What’s-
his-name’s hand, my memory not
so needed as saying it’s really all make-believe.
No one could ever have snakes for hair, no one
cut off her head although maybe
he would have, had she been real.
What’s true is I didn’t avoid when I could have
that room with fifteen original Breughels, the first
I had ever seen not in a book.
“The Tower of Babel.” “Peasant Dance.” The other
I couldn’t draws you away from, could only
respond: those soldiers lived too far back
to remember, they must have been following orders,
their leaders must have been mean. More

I could have said and still not enough.
So much you already knew of betrayals and still
you returned again and again from rooms of Rembrandt and Reubens,
Cranach’s Adam and Eve and hundreds of Christs on the cross,
you returned to take in details no one could
forget: the mothers pleading, the children
lying in blood, in snow, in a huge commotion of lances,
hooves, dogs, the wails of the children, the mothers
helpless with blood on their laps, on their hands,
their eyes turned back from Heaven.

Erin, no one forgives such things.
Nor do I know why we stayed until closing, hurrying out
with our postcards and parcels into the late May drizzle.
Why I sat on a park bench while you tried finding
pleasure in dancing like pigeons, hiding from me
again and again behind the base of Maria Theresa’s statue,
knowing I knew where you were, insisting
I couldn’t find you, anywhere.


Feeling Dry

To want to write, but to lack words.
More accurately, to lack some
thing to feel.

This unpainted
desk, cars outside
proving themselves on the hill,
smoke from burning fields
slipping unnoticed under the sun
until someone drowns
in his own breath.

To listen for some wind.

To feel responsible for listening
and to be unmoved, an air sock
limp as an unfilled dunce’s cap
waiting some change in the weather,
something full as the river
you fished last weekend
without luck

and then swimming saw
the whitefish
grazing on stones

the flickering trout steady
as mobiles suspended
on more levels
than you thought water
could contain.


Having Given Birth

for the first time

my body comes back
to itself

Spine, half
a wish bone
doubles back
victorious

Stretch marks on my breasts
fade pale
as milk

Around my head songs
from my childhood quiver
like moths, they ask
to be taken back
they ask forgiveness
for having been gone so long

Through my own lips
my mother’s voice
sings my daughter to sleep

When she sleeps
at my breast, I become
the oldest person
I have ever known
I am younger than I can remember.


Dust


Old houses have the most

It ticks out of the walls
like seconds

           *


Arrogant tourists, attracting
only their own
kind

Speaking loudly in corners
under tables, beds

Whichever way the wind
happens to blow

           *

It’s not the rest of the world we track in

It’s us

When the heater is on

When we rub
moving from room to room
this simple air up
against
this simple, worn-out, top layer of wall

           *

The one who cleans, knows:

                                          it’s what
you could order your life
around:
                     getting dressed to eat breakfast
for strength to finish the cleaning in tome to shop
for clothes to wear to work to earn money
for food to eat
for strength to wash the dishes
to wash the clothes to wear to bed to get enough rest
to get the cleaning done

           *


Ah, to clean and pretend it was nothing

Ah, in their house
to let them pretend it was nothing

Ah, to pretend to each other
you aren’t
pretending t all

           *


Facing it:

“What did you do today?”
                                        Nothing

“What can you show for it?”
                                        Absence

           *


Days I was in school
Mother cleaning everything we didn’t
do Saturdays:

                    shelves where clean
dishes went, insides of windows I never
saw anyone touch

light bulbs on ceilings, tops
of doorframes, windowframes, curtain rods
backs of every last picture on the wall

           *


Dust wouldn’t be
dust forever

It mixes with something when no one
not even TV is looking

Indiscriminate as sin
it clings
greaselike
to cracks between baseboard
and floor, to bathroom walls, kitchen walls
doors of cupboards, ceilings, cracks
around door knobs, stove knobs, faucets, chrome the length
of the sink, of the stove, of the edge
of anger

The sponge of our knowledge useless against it

Mother, years it took me to guess
you knew all this

Your Saturday helper dusting her
own room, living room, dining room, den

All this she hadn’t expected
to notice
to care about

Ever

           *

It ticks out of the walls
like lives
before us

The walls won’t
hold them
any more.