Nan Fry


Deep in the woods, the old man
lowers himself to springy moss
beside a stream. Its rushing water
washes the day’s noise out of him.

Slowly he stretches his hands,
seeing them as flowers
that close and open. He flexes
and lengthens each limb,
then stands, arms raised,
still as a tree.

A soft snort – he turns and sees
three deer staring at him wide-eyed.
He expects that white flash
of rump and tail as they startle
and flee, but they lower their heads
to graze and occasionally look up
as he becomes Fish, Swan, Bridge.


Nancy Mallet Fry (August 6, 1945-September 23, 2016) was born in Missouri and grew up in Connecticut. She earned a bachelor of arts at Wells College and a PhD in Medieval Studies at Yale University before settling in the greater DC area. She taught at The Writer’s Center, and in the Academic Studies Program at the Corcoran College of Art + Design from 1983 through 2005. Fry authored one full-length book of poetry, Relearning the Dark (Washington Writers Publishing House, 1991) and a chapbook of riddle poems translated from Anglo-Saxon, Say What I Am Called (Sibyl-Child, 1988). Her poems appeared on posters in the transit systems of DC, Baltimore, and Ft. Collins, Colorado as part of the Poetry Society of America’s “Poetry in Motion” Program, on a Bethesda Poetry Bench Project, and in numerous anthologies, including Cabin Fever: Poets at Joaquin Miller’s Cabin, Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast, The Beastly Bride, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Faery Reel, Rye Bread: Women Poets Rising, Hungry As We Are: An Anthology of Washington Area Poets, and The Poet’s Cookbook: Recipes from Germany. She also wrote occasional fiction; a story of hers was included in the anthology Gravity Dancers. In addition, her work was republished in textbooks, including The Creative Process and Discovering Literature. Fry received an EdPress Award for excellence in educational journalism, and an Individual Artist’s Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. For over ten years, she coordinated a poetry reading series at Westmoreland Church in Bethesda, Maryland.