Betsy Brown



I was away for a long time.
Houses weathered drop
by drop, shingles punctured
and swollen with plastic.

Fenced rocks, the burnt stumps,
floods took over the groves.
Roadways and bridges divided,
streams crowded under by driftwood.

I looked for hickories and tricycles,
slats from flaking trellises.
Who jimmied those windows?
Sometimes the things people say

are so tangled, I have
to pretend they’re right.
I remember bonfires and spills,
the violent rescues of wildflowers.

The motel cabins mildewed
under rain clouds and pollen.
The vacant lot grew weeds
and teenagers and disease.

Sometimes all that’s left
are the doorways,
a crooked window frame.
It never felt like a long time.

I don’t always understand
when people speak.
I can’t always remain there
when they shut up.

What’s visible in forgetting?
The locals know the difference
but I couldn’t see the change.
I can’t sit anymore in these fields.


Betsy Brown‘s book Year of Morphines (LSU Press) was a winner of the National Poetry Series. She has poems in the current issues of The Antioch Review, Conduit, and H_NGM_N.


Read more by Betsy Brown:

Poem at
Poem at Conte
Poem at H_NGM_N