Issue > Poetry
Fielda Brown

Fielda Brown

Fleda Brown's No Need of Sympathy was published by BOA Editions in 2013. In 2012, Growing Old in Poetry: Two Poets, Two Lives (essays with Sydney Lea, came out from Autumn House Press. Her memoir, Driving with Dvorak, was published in 2010 (University of Nebraska Press). She is professor emerita at the University of Delaware and now lives in Traverse City, Michigan. She is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency M.F.A. program in Tacoma, Washington.

The War


I am pulling this out of a hat. I want to think I know
my past. The war, my father coming up the walk
in his uniform. A memory made of what I was told?

Before that, the house heavy with women— Nana,
Great Aunt Rhoda, Mother, Gussie the maid.
Granddaddy's purple heart from WWI framed
on the bedroom wall.  What they held of the past
barely touched me. The mixing of yellow into the oleo,
ration coupons. Keep in mind how little I knew
of circumstances, how much I built later. How even
Great Aunt Rhoda lying in the darkened room upstairs
dying of cancer, the smells and the nurse doing
some sort of cleaning of her wound may be imagined
to a large degree, what came from a tone,
a darkness, a partially open door. What I guessed
of grief, my mother's tears when the vacuum cleaner
salesman left, her longing, my father's refusal.
The time my mother came back from a neighbor's
house with a pack of Luckys and lit one. My father's
mocking rage, or a general sense of rage, the tablecloth
pulled out from under our lives on any day.
Who knows whether it was, or whether my anxiety
was misplaced and it's me, hearing myself cry from
here for some little girl who never existed, some
accumulated gratitude or shame I have to go to,
to find out who I think I am, what I've amounted to.

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