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American Life in Poetry :: Carrie Green

American Life in Poetry
Column 860
By Kwame Dawes

What haunts this loose sonnet by Carrie Green is loss, anticipated loss, but loss, nonetheless. Yet, what emerges is an elegant “pre-elegy.” A tender anthem to a father and to the sweetness he represents, an anthem made more intimate by the choice of addressee: “Brother.”

By Carrie Green

after John Wood

Brother, one day the grove and hives will empty:
the neighbor’s trees frozen back to stumps,
our father’s bees scattered across the scrub.
But today the scent of orange blossom
reaches our patch of sand, and the beeyard
teems with thieving wings. Our father works
the hives, white shirt buttoned to the neck,
hands glove-clumsy. Veiled, he’s mysterious

as a bride. Brother, we’ll want to recall
the pollen-dusted light kissing scrub oak
and sand pine, the needles smoking in tin,
the bees’ stunned flight as our father offers
a taste of honey on his pocketknife.
Our tongues steal sweetness from the rusted blade.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Carrie Green, “ROBBING THE BEES” from Studies of Familiar Birds (Able Muse Press, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2021 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W. Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska.


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