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Sample Poems by Polly Brown

Minister's Daughter

He says I am like the minister's daughter
who knows how full of sin the good can be;
I know the soft underbelly, the dark side
of farming, and to prove him right
this month I have done in an azalea,
a Christmas cactus, two spider plants
and a whole pot of violet-blue
ageratum, which he gave me.
At least our avocado, cut back
to the root a third time,
may rise again-
Phoenix or Lazarus;
and the geraniums I'd thought dead
for lack of water on the porch
have bloomed, in a last scarlet
appeal to my better nature:
I am deciduous myself. I tell him:
like the minister's wild daughter, who wants
her full salvation's worth, I don't believe
in making things easy for life.

Indian Creek

I step back from the creek
and see that the moon has risen
while I was turned away.

The creek, divided, flows through the left culvert,
through the right culvert,
under the road,

and a small tree, only as tall as I am,
stands where the streams
from the two culverts meet,

its few November yellow- green leaves
the size and brightness of pennies
in the creek-bed's darkness.

And in some other life
my parents will be one.
Now they flow in their separateness

under my life.
I cannot say "my parents."
I say "my father," or "my mother,"

and whatever in me was broken
must be mended every day.
I tell the tree how somewhere, even in this life,

we won't work so hard.
I say this, and turn from the creek.
It is the risen moon

that breaks my heart again.


She stands within the green reach of the tree
to which we offered song and toasts last winter.

Most years, each tree's a slow-mo fireworks:
out of some unfathomable power thrown down,

an expanding sphere of apples, a wide plenty.
This year the splash of blossoms opened

just in time to freeze. Apples are few:
she counts maybe forty small gnarly fruits

on limbs that have borne hundreds.
Now the voice we sang into the tree sings back,

says faith is what we learn to store-
vinegar, honey, cinnamon. No guarantee.

Just-sweet and tart-hope, another year.

Turning the Corner

In the smallest breeze, leaf by leaf
the maple lets go, turns
its corner of the yard into an image

of itself: that same gold on the lawn,
in the laps of the spruce; that counting,
counting. As if they had agreed

together, the leaves have staggered
themselves, so we've gone from green
and gold, to gold and scarlet; now

gold and scarlet and blue, as the body
of the tree has thinned, as the sky
shines through.