Envoy and Other Poems

Polly Brody received her BA from Mount Holyoke College in 1955.  She earned an MS in Biology from Southern Connecticut State University, in 1982. She has been widely published as a poet and essayist.  Her poems have twice received the Winchell Award from the Connecticut Poetry Society. Polly’s poetry has placed first, second and third in national competitions, the most recent in 2006.

Polly is the author of four published collections:  Other Nations (poetry), The Burning Bush (essays with poetry), At the Flower’s Lip (poetry) Stirring Shadows (poetry). The following selection of poems is from her latest, Stirring Shadows, which, if you would like the book to be personally autographed, can be ordered directly from Polly’s email:  berylline33@yahoo.com.

Envoy

She is withering.
Sunken cheeks clearly reveal
the orbital rims’ concave bows,
and her dear eyes, still Mother,
are encased in wrinkled skin.
She is puckering
like sun-dried fruit.

Her flavor intensifies
like sun-dried fruit.
I duck my head to kiss
a cheek once level with mine.
Each night I think of her
laid out in her single bed,
arthritic hip grumbling
its unceasing discomfort.
Mother will hoist that painful hip
up the side door’s inconvenient stairs
lest she disturb the phoebe
nesting by her kitchen entrance.
My mother, even now,
will stoop to lift a turtle from the road.

Today she telephones, to tell me
how a small black doe has come
each morning, to browse windfall apples:
how she has softly gone outside,
sweet-talking, tossing quartered apples—
easier to mouth than slippery round ones—
and how today, the small black deer
with smooth-skinned cheeks
and long-lashed, liquid eyes,
has come step by step
upon its dainty, pronged hooves,
to stretch its supple neck
and take the apples from her hand.

HUMPBACKS FEEDING

Sleek hulks glide, dark
beneath a skim of water
to port and starboard, and below our bow.
When wet mammalian heads breach
we hear a gasping paugh!
then air drawn hissing
down the gaping blowholes.
The whales sound, one after the other,
and sea grows still
but petrels fret above,
watchful in the air.
Now a surge and roil wells,
slate-blue depths turn brilliant teal.
Silver flashes boil up, bait fish
netted in a thrumming whirl
of clamorous bubbles and singing froth.
Leviathan breath so overwhelms
their auditory flanks,
they’re shocked from sense.
I would like to think
their frantic reel to surface
a sort of ecstasy—
to die in such a vortex,
such incandescent turquoise splendor.

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY

His ashes, urned,
rest upon a sturdy catafalque.
Three sober youths stand alongside,
each facing, across this bier,
another like himself, dress-uniformed.

Outstretched between them,
the flag held taut—
not the slightest tremble when
twenty-one volleys crack the air,
not the slightest tremble when
Taps floats from an invisible bugle.

A senior officer at the bier’s head
begins the fold.  First triangle
pressed lovingly upon his chest.
Triangle in-folded again,
again and yet again upon itself.

His white-gloved palm strokes
smooth each slightest wrinkle—
his gesture a tenderness for all
who lie here, and will lie here.

The stretched flag glides slowly
from the hands of young Marines
into that grave, gathering triangle.

Borne to the widow
as if it were a child,
the swaddled flag
from bended knee, offered up.

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