Poems by Polly Brody

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Clear Cut

by Polly Brody

From Canary Summer 2012

Polly lives in an exurban Connecticut town, about 500 ft. above sea level, about an hour's drive inland from Long Island Sound.

Yellow "Cats" claw and rip
this tropic pelt.
Sap-wet shards fly from the chainís bite,
teeth grinding toward heartwood.
Falling, each tree drags through
lianas linking it to others
in verdant tapestry,
opens a tear its length
to the cauterizing sun.
Under rain-season thunder,
bared earth will bleed red streams
pouring away, a silent scream.

Absentee landlords to the north
realize their Midas dreams
in lumber and dirt-cheap cattleó
quick-order hamburgers far from famine.

Lateritic soil hardens, scabs.
A bird, unheard, circles
crying for its canopy
and frogs, carmine-bright,
shrivel in the unrelenting light.

First Comers

by Polly Brody

From Canary Fall 2013

Man entered the western hemisphere, carrying Stone Age weapons and fire. The glacial age tundra teemed with megafauna whose 20 million year evolution had been apart from that of Homo. In a few millennia this fauna was extinct.

You mammoths: shagged hulks who
barely stepped aside at first,
panic now before their clever fire
driving you toward ravines
and fatal plunges.

You steppe ponies: fat rumps inviting butchery,
stampede screaming confusion
within the circle of their ambush.
Your kind will not again set hoof here
until your second coming, bearing Spaniards.

You ground sloth: slow herbivore
large as the mighty bear, but un-fanged,
how you swing your stunned head
above this rabble, as honed stone
drives into your liver.

And you great-antlered caribou:
migrant dependable as the sun,
jammed tight with your calves
into rivers, how your tangled racks clatter
while you buck in bloody froth.

Lion incisors dangle from the shamanís medicine bag.
Bear pelts keep naked bodies warm.
Megabeasts dwindle, the People flourish.

In the voids they create,
they invent gods of fur and horn,
shapes remembered in mindís dark negative.

Nurse Logs

by Polly Brody

From Canary Fall 2016

Stilled they lie—
long green combers
in the benthic shade
of rainforest floor.
Towering through centuries
into fog-wet air,
these Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock
built histories—lean years and fat—
tales of themselves remembered
in heartwood’s dilations.
Rugged bark, slow to raddle,
resisted borer and fungus,
took lightning’s sizzling whip.
Yet even monuments come down
when years enough lay on.
Falling, each opens skylights
calling up new, frail green:
cushion moss, sweet fern, brambles.
Mould and insects soften trunks,
shape mounds of gentled pulp.
Wind drifts detritus down
and in this litter, cones germinate.
Rank upon rank, young conifers
raise the forms in which they root,
these long, prone swells, inspirited.

Previously published in The Spoon River Poetry Review.

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