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Category archive for: Fleda Brown

The Puffball

Was beauteously, bulbously huge—redundant

as a luminous moon—puffed and balled,

seized by Uncle Richmond from the deep woods,

plucked with both hands and brought

to the doorstep for our amazement

and accolades, and to be sliced and fried,

tasting like nothing but slightly singed butter,

which we happily shared back then, several years

before he collapsed on the porch at 85

with a heart attack, having driven forty miles

from Petoskey home clutching his chest,

sweat streaming after the meeting

where the argument was made to inject

toxic wastes under the “perfectly safe” shelf

of rock to mingle in the underground seas and sift

slowly out to the Great Lakes as has happened

before. He stood and said so, hands shaking

more than usual, so that on the dark road home

he had to stop for a minute near King’s Orchard

then drive on, legs finally giving way

on his own front porch, Lee luckily hearing

something like a branch falling, so he survived,

lean and leaving to range through the forests

after the fantastical and favor us with the tale

of it, again, or occasionally with the whole thing,

harbored and carried into our presence,

a careful joy, mysteriously magnified, come

upon as if the earth had started suddenly over.

from No Need of SympathyFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Venus de Milo

The moon is a bleached marble the color of the Venus de Milo.

It gets so full of itself it breaks through whole centuries.

In this twenty-first one, I am called upstairs by my grandson Noah

to see the full moon over Paris. I tell him about the centuries

inside the marble, layers and streaks. How the sculptor studies

the grain. How even then it can break out of control. Jab the chisel

too far, it leaves a white bruise. Mystery is both cool and cruel,

I’m thinking, if you stay with it, as Noah and I do on the balcony

trying to take a picture that didn’t come out, that resisted us,

the way the Venus de Milo did in the afternoon, with her missing

arms, holding herself in, turning us back toward details. I explain

to Noah how rasps and rifflers are used for the final shaping. I explain

love and beauty in the language of work, what else is there to say?

why mention how much is free-fall—accident—the combination

of genes and skill that turn them to face each other like two mirrors

making their long corridor of escape? I just climb the 64 stairs

to the balcony, panting. I say it’s nothing. But then we step

into the dark and enter beauty, where there never was a foothold.

I might have told him that, but just then we were looking at the moon.

from No Need of SympathyFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Dancing at Your Wedding

I wish I hadn’t danced like that, un-

dignified, wild, but consider your groom’s

family, full press of uncles, aunts, parents,

generations of sticking together, then your own

scattered mess of faithlessness, and there

you are, father on one arm, me on your other,

two captive animals lured to the same pen.

There I am on the old VCR tape,

flouncing, you could say that,

into the reception with my new man,

your ex-stepfather crazily lurking

in the background. I’m wearing the filmy,

matronly mother-of-the bride-thing, grief

and joy thrashing in me like sumo wrestlers.

There we are, all layers of time

licensed to be here, and I am the smoke

of the speed of the rewind, in my smoky

blue dress among the calla lilies

and candles, and you a grand beaded

snowy island, a bell-voice at the microphone,

thanking us all, in general, and then I’m dancing

and dancing, stricken and turning, turning

my eyes. Imagine if Hades followed Persephone

back into spring and summer, not speaking,

sitting at a side table fingering the stem

of his glass, cupping its bowl, smiling

with his white teeth! Imagine if Rousseau

got up to speak of the goodness of the human heart,

and yours still bloody, the sweet smell

of a gardenia loud as a band

playing just under your chin.

from No Need of SympathyFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
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.