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brooke harries / two poems

Autobiography


I was battening everything down so I wouldn’t worry.

I was in a park with another group on a blanket,

salt and vinegar on my lips.

I was in your head, I was on her mind,

I was anywhere but here for myself. I love you like Henry James loves fate.

His characters break on the shore of it,

make another character of it.

I was there to impress you, to make you take my picture,

to do one funny thing in a parking lot

to right your mood before you drove away a stranger.

I was the sigh of a dog in a purse with eyes on you.

I knew the news was getting worse.

I wanted to cover every possibility

with monogrammed towels,

Kennedy sailing in white trousers,

determine a favorite feeling about music:

a spell that fell all over the beach.

I was sibling words. I was rapt and agog.

A rose on the table in an Italian restaurant.

I was the jukebox with really only

Sinatra and “Tequila” on it.

I was in your yard drinking water out of a hose.

I would always flip the tablecloth

and have dinner again.

I thought you’d be back,

but I don’t know.

By sunset I was made ordinary by homesickness.


 

Palo Verde Road


Somewhere between laundry room couples and whoever braided branches to look like a snake then left them on the courtyard table and me there is a lady with a raucous laugh I’ve never seen.

I hear her laughter waiting for clothes in the dryer over the forgettable sounds of new cars. She probably watches football and has curly hair. Every day I like it here more.

At my desk I keep looking out the window at the laundry room shack and its trellis, the green and yellow leaves hanging.

When I smile for a picture I am only trying to look how I did in a past picture. The one for whom I smiled was distant then, and is now, even in approximations, wholly absent.

Here is a place he’s never seen. Fast lizards cling like static on dark coral walls. Twice now out of my basket and into my hands came a matching pair of socks, side by side.


 

Brooke Harries' work has appeared in Arkansas Review, Salamander, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from UC Irvine and is a PhD student at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she serves as Associate Editor of Mississippi Review.

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