November 2007

Fleda Brown


Fleda Brown's sixth collection of poems, Reunion, won the Felix Pollak Prize and was published in 2007 by the University of Wisconsin Press. She is retired professor of English at the University of Delaware and teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop, Tacoma, WA.
Relationship Therapy    

The young man needs his sleep. The woman wants
a word of love, a kiss. He turns to her, sarcastic.

The TV therapists take notes, express astonishment.
The camera's on the couple floundering in the quilt

somewhat self-consciously, in bed, their eyes
bright disks, like jack-lighted deer. We're headed

down inside to see what's wrong. The ocean at its
deepest part is warm and beautiful with hairy fronds.

Deep in the heart. Although, beneath the street,
blind pipes connect the noiseless streams of feces,

urine, tampons, condoms, remains of what was
wanted once, sent off to strain and settle, aerate, and

commit to soil. The heart's all give and take, Heaven
and Hell, we like to say, our thoughts enlarging like

balloons to lift us up or snap us down. We drift
so far away! What will happen to the couple? Will

they practice how to say the sweet things love
requires, to touch each other well? Will the endangered

Crested Shelduck live? Will monarchs fly through
haze and concrete fields to South America?

On nature shows, the close-ups come so close
monarchs obtain a stained-glass glow, fragile as

the soul, unable to survive alone. Our couple gets
an exercise to do, on camera. They have to swing like

circus acrobats, on opposite swings, then gauge
the perfect second to grab each others' hands, release

the feet, and trust each others' hold. This demonstrates
the need to synchronize, to make the most of time,

to feel how short it is. The swinging and the latching on
convince the body how the mind should act.

We watch this silly therapy, the couple who believe
in it, its wild exaggeration, the rocketing

and orbiting we like to think will save us from ourselves.
We know the camera's there, the audience of past

and future wait. The bedroom lights go down. It's
hands across the wide expanse of sheets. Whatever

do results mean now? Stem cells turn into anything,
given the chance. Drug companies pay a zillion bucks

to get results they want. What if he marries her?
What if they have four kids? Will the monarch get

to Venezuela? The panda mate in captivity? The mind
swings yes and no, grabs for the present moment,

makes up metaphors like crazy, a circus of them, links
unlike things in bed, to see what happens next.



Fleda Brown: Poetry
Copyright ©2007 The Cortland Review Issue 37The Cortland Review