American Life in Poetry: Column 035


Massachusetts poet J. Lorraine Brown
has used an unusual image in "Tintype
on the Pond, 1925." This poem, like
many others, offers us a unique
experience, presented as a gift,
for us to respond to as we will.
We need not ferret out a hidden
message. How many of us will recall
this little scene the next time we
see ice skates or a Sunday-dinner roast?

Tintype on the Pond, 1925

Believe it or not,
the old woman said,
and I tried to picture it:
a girl,
the polished white ribs of a roast
tied to her boots with twine,
the twine coated with candle wax
so she could glide
across the ice--
my mother,
skating on bones.

Reprinted from "Eclipse" by permission
of the author. Poem copyright (c) 2004
by J. Lorraine Brown. This weekly column
is supported by The Poetry Foundation,
The Library of Congress, and the Department
of English at the University of Nebraska,
Lincoln. This column does not accept
unsolicited poetry.