November 2009

Fleda Brown


Fleda Brown has a collection of memoir essays, Driving with Dvorak, coming out from the University of Nebraska press this winter. Her sixth collection of poems, Reunion (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007), won the Felix Pollak Prize. She is professor emerita of the University of Delaware and teaches in the Rainier Writing Program, Tacoma, Washington.

I Take the Boys Up the Eiffel Tower    

If we could see time, supposedly
it would look like a tesseract, beams sliding
along vectors, sideways and inside,
difficult as the leap out
from the Trade Center Towers—
you only get there by releasing a death-hold
on the last frame you've got.  
          We are on the way
up, late in the day, sun striping
the cross-girders, the boys and I
on the second-level elevator to the top,
crammed in like cattle. The higher we get
the more time's suspended,
something to do with Einstein,
          something to do with distance
squeezing out details that have meant
everything to us. The bees, for example:
what if we kill them off? And what if
there's nothing left for polar bears
to sit on?
          I tell the boys about Niagara Falls,
about sitting on the stone wall, my bare
little legs, knit cap, water pouring and tearing
below. "What happened?" they want
to know. "I didn't fall, of course," I say,
not remembering, really, only
the photograph.
          The rooftops of Paris fan out
below. "A giant spider web," say the boys.
Spiders, too, they'll be gone.
Meanwhile, they go on stringing
webs while our sky disappears behind
threads of lights, wind swaying
the platform. The boy's eyes get all
far away, as if the body could be emptied
enough to forget to die, or, at least
to fly through itself, god-speed.



Fleda Brown: Poetry
Copyright ©2009 The Cortland Review Issue 45The Cortland Review