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Carol Brockfield

June 2009

Getting On


I sometimes like to visit my mind
where it lives now,
talk with it in that dim-lit room
with the detritus of generations.

We speak of many things both trivial and grand.
I ask it where my French has gone, and such.

It’s a quiet chat—
we sense the time for urgency has passed.
We both have watched it go,
first deceptively slow, then
with the speed of a clock gone mad.

All these artifacts—names
of people no longer here, books
read and forgotten, every address,
the memory of where the crib once stood,
how the tiny cheek smelled of peaches—
purely useless.

Yet turning them over between us
makes a pleasant occupation,
whiling away the dwindling hours,
caressing the irrelevant.

Imperfect Talisman

They follow nose-to-tail round
my neck, rough-carved and poorly strung,
dark Pisces twins conjoined.

Some fish eyes stare wide, some
narrow with uncertainty.
They see both sides,

black/white, this and that—
they swim in two directions
in disparate currents.

One pair weakens to split,
fall away as others have.
The string may break again,

drop yet another
from the magic ring.
Abrasion has softened their edges—

the stain applied so long ago
is wearing off. Their ivory
is showing through. 

Banana Apples

We picked apples,
tasted October sunshine.
I held the ladder, he climbed.

We chased the calf to the far pasture,
gathered the last Black-eyed Susans
in sweaty bunches for my mother,

played ghost through new-washed sheets.
I loved that hard, browned boy,
so when she said “Smile for the camera,”

I was already smiling, had my arm
already round his neck—not caring
that his overall strap was safety-pinned

and my panties were showing.
Though the tree fell many years ago,
the calf and the pasture

now only bright pictures on a dark page,
how to forget the sweetness
that came before the tart?

Bees and Things

We sat in a park once and talked about bees.
Silly talk. You
snorted with laughter,
rewarded my absurdities
with helpless tears.

We went on for a good half-hour
and I like to think we could do it again,
given the chance.
I’m the same grandmother.
A little older—yes, but so are you—
perhaps too old to indulge
in the ridiculous.

Or maybe the old honey between us
has hardened now,
with one so eager for the future,
one always looking back.

Aboard the Coast Starlight                

People leave my life like
strangers from a train.

Here in the mountains, snaking
along the high grade,
the engine bursts around a curve
into its own light.
Drawn moon whips across the sky
from right to left and back again,.
circles what we cannot see.

Whistle pales ahead.

Predawn stop at a sleeping station.
Some step down, silently
slip away as we others journey on,
pull from the flagging lamps
into new darkness.

Sometimes I can see beyond the window.
Sometimes the glass gives only reflections:
years past, old trains, sleeping
on the shoulders of strangers.

Sometimes I can see beyond the window.
Sometimes the glass gives only reflections:
years past, old trains, sleeping
on the shoulders of strangers.

Carol Brockfield crayoned poems on her kindergarten paper. Long since she has graduated to a computer keyboard and laser printer, and her work has appeared in several college anthologies, The Hiss Quarterly, and flashquake. She is active in the local poetry scene and organizes critique groups, workshops, and readings as head of the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon State Poetry Association.

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