Winter 2005

Fleda Brown


Fleda Brown Fleda Brown's fifth collection of poems, The Women Who Loved Elvis All Their Lives, was published this year by Carnegie Mellon University Press. She is professor of English at the University of Delaware and Poet Laureate of Delaware.
Elegy For A Woman Killed On New   Click to hear in real audio
London Road By A Flying Deer

As the deer hit the hood of the first car
and flew backward into her own windshield,
hoofs and fur, I hope there was an instant
when it was not just surprise, but something
important. Maybe the doomed pass
matter-of-factly from one state to another,
but I hope they examine the transition
with interest, their attention for once exact
and full. She's definitely got my attention,
with the deer rocketing on, wild snout,
wild eyes that also know this is it—
the final event that comes fast and slow
at once. I have her feeling gorgeous
for a second, her old fictions of herself
flying headlong and light as the holy ghost
into the actual creature. I have her devoted
for that second to love, meaning certain
tendencies fulfilled. Finally, the vacillations,
the in and out of breath, the eating
and eliminating, the loving and hating,
meeting without caution or shame—
not in theory, but in fur, eye, tuft of ear-hair,
hoof, glass, bone, her own, flaming,
fused. This is the bit of faith I can muster
for myself, that the shattering turns out
to be the most important part, before
the shifting starts: visitation, vis á vis,
no way to see more. Like childbirth,
it shouldn't be missed, no matter that she'll
never exactly remember how amazing it was.



Poem For Our Twelfth Wedding Anniversary    Click to hear in real audio

I've lasted three days longer now than marriage number two,
a week longer than my number one. But the thirty-six years you

shared with your previous darling—I have a ways to go. Still,
we have to account for the way time compresses, distills.

We've been together barely nineteen percent of your life,
now, twenty percent of mine. All that wake behind us, that strife,

it's as if we're wading through peanut butter. Neither of us
keeps souvenirs, other than our children, but every time you touch

my elbow, the inside of my wrist, I think of the difference. Not
think. The undertow of the past sounds a tone against that spot

like a temple bell under my skin. We're never entirely alone.
Let me put it this way: suppose we go to the matinee, our known

life left out there in the sun. We're ready to fling ourselves into
the plot, shed a few tears, which is the fun of it. Something new.

Then we're stunned by the inside light, made of all our infinite
remembered people and places, re-shuffled to form this exquisite,

this strange tale. Sure, it makes us sad, or sorry, but the edifice
itself is pure bliss: all of us here, we're all caught up in the kiss.




Fleda Brown: Poetry
Copyright © 2005 The Cortland Review Issue 27The Cortland Review