“Reading the Smithsonian Magazine,” by Fleda Brown

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Poetry by Fleda Brown from our Winter 2017 issue.

Stonehenge, and the recent discoveries using various devices
that can accurately map the underworld without turning one

of dirt. Two long pits superimposed on the photos, a causeway
leading to the henge, those heavy-leaning hunks. How they once

stood, in a perfect circle, great nouns holding hands, balancing
their lintel-stones after much human struggle and death,

welcoming travelers from many miles, we know because of
the bones. Central as Mecca, it says here, but I read Astral as muses.

The doctor has not yet come in to tell me I am still free of cancer
as far as he can tell. We are outside the henge, we can’t get in

to find out what happened or why. It was not about language.
That was me, thinking nouns, repeating that old story of stones

walking the earth, of things being better, or purer, elsewhere, where
messages rise from the grass. I thought it was a waiting for

the rough stones holding their news for eons, concentrating on how
to instruct us while the clouds go whitely by. But now here is the

white coat of the doctor, towering over as if I dreamed him up.
Either he’s a ghost or I am, in my palely flowered skimpy gown,

feet dangling from the table like a child’s. I am arms and legs, pulse,
and my secret interior that has said nothing this time, nothing bad.

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Image: George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. Detail of “Stonehenge.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

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