This is what I was trying to send. Hope it makes it this time!
The Vision Test" - it's in her book, Letters from a Father and Other
Poems (Atheneum, 1982). It's one of my favorite poems for reading to
creative writing classes, partly to prove that I don't "hate rhymed
verse," if it's done well! And partly because the poem is such fun to
read out loud. I especially enjoy rendering the "Oh ha ha ha ha hee
hee!" Here it is:
The Vision Test
My driver's license is lapsing and so I appear
in a roomful of waiting others and get in line.
I must master a lighted box of far or near,
a highway language of shape, squiggle and sign.
As the quarter-hours pass I watch the lady in charge
of the test, and think how patient, how slow, how nice
she is, a kindly priestess indeed, her large,
round face, her vanilla pudding, baked-apple-and-spice
face in continual smiles as she calls each "Dear"
and "Honey" and shows first-timers what to see.
She enjoys her job, how pleasant to be in her care
rather than brute little bureaucrat or saleslady.
I imagine her life as a tender placing of hands
on her children's hands as they come to grips with the rocks
and scissors of the world. The girl before me stands
in a glow of good feeling. I take my place at the box.
"And how are you this lovely morning, Dear?
A few little questions first. Your name?--Your age?--
Your profession?" "Poet." "What?" She didn't hear.
"Poet," I say loudly. The blank pink page
of her face is lifted to me. "What?" she says.
"POET," I yell. "P-O-E-T."
A moment's silence. "Poet?" she asks. "Yes."
Her pencil's still. She turns away from me
to the waiting crowd, tips back her head like a hen
drinking clotted milk, and her "Ha ha hee hee hee"
of hysterical laughter rings through the room. Again
"Oh, ha ha ha ha ha hee hee."
People stop chatting. A few titter. It's clear
I've told some marvelous joke they didn't quite catch.
She resettles her glasses, pulls herself together,
pats her waves. The others listen and watch.
"And what are we going to call the color of your hair?"
she asks me warily. Perhaps it's turned white
on the instant, or green is the color poets declare,
or perhaps I've merely made her distrust her sight.
"Up to now it's always been brown." Her pencil trembles,
then with an almost comically obvious show
of reluctance she lets me look in her box of symbols
for normal people who know where they want to go.