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Polly Brown


Listen to Polly Brown read this poem:

Another Country

For Sarah


       If you drove into one of those tiny
compressed unknown villages I kept seeing
                             through railway windows,
               it would be flat as any photograph
       as you approached it:
                      the red tile juxtaposed roofs,
water tower, church spire above the fields.
               Then suddenly it would surround you:
brown and blue and creamy white,
                      full of signs and glances,
               sounds of animals,
       smells of water—

       and then again you would be out,
                      on a curving narrow
               wind-silenced road, carrying
                             the village like a tune.


       One night, walking in Lyon,
we saw in a hotel window a dark blue falcon
               stern-faced as time and change.
       You are far away.

But this morning, in a dream full of that mellifluous
                    language you have borrowed,
             which I don’t know,

       you and I, walking in a park, came to a girl
                            who’d set out on stone steps
       her collection of small birds carved from stone,
and as we touched them, the birds
               briefly rose to life, each one
                             larger and stronger,

       until the last—the falcon, towering and ancient—
                           opened her wings,
              and folded them around us.



Listen to Polly Brown read this poem:

Stopping in Middleborough


               On the beach, my students
kept bringing me the bones of birds:
       wing bone, shoulder bone, a chunk of spine
               like a white bead to be strung—

       and I knew I would stop to see you
               on my way home:
                             my bird-lady, gone
                      and become a stone,
a speckled shoulder of granite
       holding the afternoon’s last sun.

Remember the poem about being a bird
       who could feel a branch give way,
                      yet rise and sing?
       Your counsel not to forget 
               that I had wings—

       Here the maple branches lift and sigh;
               three robins join them, carolling;
                             a dog barks
in my great-grandfather’s neighborhood;
       and I’m here; I’m here
               listening in your name.



Listen to Polly Brown read this poem:

Vase from Jane’s Wheel, CA. 1975

After their tribe had wandered away,
               we drove one evening to the top
       of Hubbard Hill,

               walked into and through each handmade,
                             abandoned house,
       listened to wind renaming the trees.

Near Jane’s steps, where we’d sat
               so often to watch the meadow
                                    and drink tea,

       we found in tall grass this vase,
                      walls thick as an inch in some places—
               a purple, hollowed-out stone

               with a grey glazed rim,
       thrown by some friend
                      learning on her wheel.

Four states and three decades away now,
               we fill the vase with lilacs,
               laurel, half-wild

       rain-wet roses—heavy
               flowers that need some anchor
                      for their sweetness.



Polly Brown is a member of Every Other Thursday, a poets' collaborative in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This fall, in her day job at Touchstone Community School, she is exploring transportation with 11-year-olds: physics, history, Toad careening down the road. Her recent chapbook is Each Thing Torn From Any of Us.
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Posted by RodgerOctober 03, 2009 - 05:52 am
Polly, Well-written and well-spoken which makes for a wonderful blend with a cup of tea this rainy Saturday morning.

Posted by JeannieSeptember 26, 2009 - 04:21 pm
What a neat idea. . . and how perfectly the old poems fit the new format. Thanks for letting me in on the new site; I think I'll be coming back to it again.

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