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Category archive for: Deborah Brown

A Family Story

Like that mouse

who clung to the cabin wall

by its pale, delicate nails,

its shapely knuckles curved tight,

and then its tail flicking

side to side like a tongue over

its plump thumb of a body,

as if joining the argument,

clawing its way up, swaying

until, in the morning, the soft

collapsed body of the mouse,

stuck half in, half out of the wall,

as though he’d heard beckoning

noises from the field, as though

he’d tried to drive straight through

and batter his small way there.

from Walking the Dog’s ShadowFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

String Theories

        I say nothing

about how fast the light travels

   or of Einstein’s problem catching up with it,

     or of Ludwig Boltzmann, who killed himself

when scientists mocked his belief

   in other dimensions. Today

     the strings of Boltzmann’s theory

have stories to tell, they

   pulsate to anyone’s rhythm.

     I hold you in ten dimensions,

wish you safe in all of them.

   I know space and time curl around strings

     that give rise to the gravity

which holds us here, the way the notes

   of Mozart’s Requiem scrolled

     on his last staves. The invisible strings

in us spin themselves into specks of light,

   and two new forces one strong and one weak,

     draw us together. This is the complicated

shape of our time together, our past and present

   woven into a fragment of the sky.

     It is an elegy to you.

from Walking the Dog’s ShadowFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Small Sorrows

You can start anywhere,

you can start with the hummingbird

that quivers at the feeder, or with a moon

lost in the corner, or the stray dog who creeps

to my window and breathes. But not with

the Lebanese woman on TV who sobs as she

trudges back to her house of rubble.

How can I tell you my small sorrows?

In Slovenia, at the Nazi prison in Begunje,

you can see the last writing of two British

soldiers. On the stone of a shared cell, each

scraped the facts he pared himself down to:

name, address, parents, schools, date of enlistment,

rank, battalion, date and place taken prisoner, and

the date which became the year of death.

I didn’t want to start there.

I don’t want to end there. But no matter where I start,

or end, I will tell you—that if I could

touch you, I would become a hummingbird, a hidden,

shining center. And the dog—she would

press her small, strong back into my hip.

from Walking the Dog’s ShadowFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Vestibule

I sometimes wish I could find Cindy

to thank her for agreeing with my fine idea

that we sneak into the university chapel

late one night in 1983 to make love.

I don’t just want to thank her for giving me

the trump card—“house of worship”—

I hold in every stupid party game that begins,

“Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever…?”

No, I want to thank her for the truth of it.

For knowing that the heart is holy even when

our own hearts were so frail and callow.

Truth: it was 1983; we were nineteen years old;

we lay below the altar and preached a quiet sermon

not just on the divinity of skin, but on the grace

of the heart beneath. It was the only homily

we knew, and our souls were beatified.

And if you say sentiment and cliché, then that

is what you say. What I know is what is sacred.

Lord of this other world, let me recall that night.

Let me again hear how our whispered exclamations

near the end seemed like rising hymnal rhythm,

and let me feel how those forgotten words came

from somewhere else and meant something.

Something, if only to the single moth

that, in the darkened air of that chapel,

fluttered its dusty wings around our heads.

from The BoatloadsFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2008
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.