For Barbara, Who Said She Couldn't Visualize Two Women Together

Bass, Ellen

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Wear, Delese
  • Date of entry: Nov-22-1996
  • Last revised: Aug-21-2006


This poem takes the form of a guided imagery, one woman talking to another about sexual love between two women. She urges the listener Barbara to picture this, nuzzle, touch, or imagine that, selecting sights and scents found in the natural world to guide this sensory projection from the known to the unknown (lilacs wet with rain, ocean foam, the feel of poppies, the smell of wild mint). The entire guided imagery is achieved without explicit sexual imagery, yet the poem is deeply sensual.


Physical love between a man and a woman is rather easy to find in all literary genres; such imagery usually does not evoke surprise or discomfort in readers. The imagery in this poem is gently evocative so that the (heterosexual) reader may find herself at the end of the poem with a deepened awareness of physical love between women. This poem would be interesting to read with some of the recent poetry of Rafael Campo (see this database) that takes readers on a similar journey in quite a different way.


First edition published in 1973.

Primary Source

No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Women Poets


HarperCollins: HarperPerennial

Place Published

New York




Florence Howe