October

By Hannah Sullivan Brown

My mother calls to tell me she can no longer tell
the difference between memory and dream. As
she talks I walk the backyard—all day

I have watched a fat bee plunder
the same plush marigold, slowly
sinking his velvet face into the pollen, 
raising it up again. My mother has been

dreaming of her dead father, has to ask 
her sister what is real. Next to the bee
the eggplant vine has been fooled
into late flowering, lavender blossoms 
swirled with white. In the warm
slow light I want to say to my mother,

who is still talking, with me it’s memory
and desire, losses that cling to branches
like glossy black clusters of chokeberries
long after the leaves have blown away.

Years ago a friend and I fell out—he insisted
on being in love with me, I couldn’t lie
that I liked his poetry—though I still 
remember the line apricot skin, flush
in the morning.

I wish I had an apricot or an evergreen,
something sweet, cleansing. I like
to walk barefoot on dewy grass to
greet the day, though I’ve never 
actually done that. I’ve done it
in my mind. Does that count?


Hannah Sullivan Brown received an MA from Indiana University and an MFA from Butler University, where she recently served as Poetry Editor of Booth Magazine. She lives with her husband and three children and teaches in Indianapolis, Indiana. Recent work appears in So It Goes, the literary journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library.

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