Molly Peacock

Fret Not
July 9, 2014 Peacock Molly

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.

Molly Peacock is the author of eight collections of poetry, including The Analyst: Poems and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems. Her poems appear in leading literary journals such as Poetry, The Malahat Review, The Women’s Review of Books, and Plume and are anthologized in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Former President of the Poetry Society of America and former Poet-in-Residence at the American Poets’ Corner, she is the co-founder of Poetry in Motion on New York’s subways and buses and the founder of The Best Canadian Poetry. Her latest project is Molly Peacock’s Secret Poetry Room, a creative space for first generation college students to write at Binghamton University. Recipient of fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the New York Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Canada Council on the Arts, Access Copyright Canada, the Society for Citizens and Scholars, and the Leon Levy Center for Biography, Peacock is also the author of two biographies about creativity in the lives of women artists: The Paper Garden:Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 and Flower Diary: Mary Hiester Reid Paints, Travels, Marries & Opens a Door. From a binational American and Canadian family, she lives in Toronto and teaches at 92NY Roundtable in New York City.