Fret Not

Opening the door for the first time since

your brain hemorrhaged, you looked so trim and well

(in black and white) you could almost convince

us both you were whole.  Your living room welled

with light, the wall above the couch arranged

with your watercolors.  “I hung them myself,”

you said proudly.  Almost nothing was changed

(except for the attendant, making herself

small by sitting silently.)  You’re witnessed now,

as you’ve witnessed me.  “May I have a painting?”

I’d been afraid to ask, but I did somehow.

“You really want one of my paintings?

Then come in here.”  Your bedroom?  But I was

your patient!  Before your brain bled.  Yes, was.


I followed you into the narrow room:

plain as plain.  Like a nun’s cell, the bed,

a single pallet, no headboard, a deep red

blanket instead of a coverlet.  Blood bloom.

Nuns fret not at their narrow convent’s room.

No one could climb into that cot but one.

A tall row of wooden cabinets.  One

you opened, and small paintings that had loomed

above my head (as I’d lain on your couch

and talked about, around, for, yet, because…and wept)

you brought out now from where you slept.

Your pallet.  Next to your palette.

Red blanket like a hemorrhage contained

after a time bomb exploded your brain.


The painting I chose was small: two lemons

against a blue background, one with a tip,

salmon-colored. An aureola? Lemons,

tart companions of the senses, the tip

of a world, mute on a piece of paper

folding out and beyond and inward and

onto the contours of the conquered land

of your mind, landmined.  We’re.  Were.

You laid the yellow watercolor down

on your bed, a camp cot for the wounded

in a tent pitched on a plot of scanty ground.

Fret not.  Fret you not.  Forget-me-not:  found.

So I lifted it up—then laid it in this frame

now on my wall.  Hourly I pass your name.




Widely anthologized, Molly Peacock’s poetry is included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry, as well as in leading literary journals such as the Times Literary Supplement and Poetry. She is the author of six volumes, including The Second Blush, and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems both published by W.W. Norton and Company. Peacock’s latest book of nonfiction is both a biography of 18th-century collage artist Mary Delany and meditation on late-life creativity, The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, published by Bloomsbury USA & UK. Visit her on the web at

Issue #37 July 2014
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