Beth Tornes ’73

Beth called the office to share that she loved hearing about Mrs. Pfaff in the recent alumni magazine and that Sara had a huge influence on her, and encouraged her in writing and reading. Beth lives in Northern Wisconsin and has published 3 books of poetry. Her latest, Between the Dog and the Wolf, includes the following poem dedicated to Sara Pfaff.

Dear Mrs. Pfaff

Thank you for ninth grade English,

for calling me Miss Tornes 

as you looked fiercely 

over the reading glasses

propped on your nose,


for making us read so much

William Carlos Williams,

Emily Dickinson

and J.D. Salinger,

whose books I devoured

at the Bexley Public Library.

Holden, Franny and Zooey’s

eccentricities mirrored my own,

made me feel that I too

belonged to the human race.

Thank you for helping me

slay my darkest dragons

with your ferocious 

extra credit reading list.


Thank you for telling me

when I turned in the first essay,

Nice is a garbage word.

You made me find a more precise

adjective.  Nice turned into fragile

green sheaths of daffodil blossoms

when we illustrated Wordsworth’s

“I wandered lonely as a cloud.”


Thank you for searing

in my brain forever

the red wheelbarrow

slick with fresh rain 

beside the white chickens.

Elizabeth Tornes