Frannie Lindsay - Poems

Excerpts from Mayweed

Pulling off the Highway on the Way to a Deathbed to Visit a Workhorse at Rest

We are no more
than matter, our hair on the wind off the foothills
will not even be

ash hovered above a collapsing wave
off a coast harsh with gulls;
still, look how

Levi the aged Clydesdale bends his stupendous neck,
his braided mane tangled
with sunlight,

over his mess of hay and oats;
look how his hips, shuddering with arthritis,
are sturdy enough

to walk the corral's perimeter, completely
ignoring us, noble no longer, his gorgeous red hide
flicking nothing away

but heat, his fine pale fetlocks muddied
by urine and dirt,
his hooves

that worked the acres when we were young
imbedded with pebbles. And still, look
how his venerable, achy legs,

hour by rainless hour, with all the gravity
once entrusted to them, now with mournful power
stamp the dust by his water pail.

first appeared in Field

To the Flowering Plum Tree on Beacon Street

And here you are
outside the Sovereign Bank

in the night-blown rain, old now; almost unable
to grip your million blossoms,

bride whose groom, spring after blustery spring,
doesn’t show up;

what can you do
but stand there, idly fashion one more

sapwood ring of your own, and keep on

first appeared in Poetry International

Friendship Circle

I remember the whole Girl Scout pledge
the handshake the two-finger salute
the circle we formed at the end
of our purposeful meetings there in the echoey gym
by crossing our arms over our stomachs
and joining hands even with Freya who already had
her period singing before we went home
Make New Friends in a round wanting nothing
except our rides our suppers our favorite shows but
squeezing the palm of the girl to the right
passing around the sacred gossip
until it came back as a nervous
boy’s fingers the first time inside a blouse
but tonight all of our living mothers
are waiting again for us in the parking lot
by the frozen track field listen
they have cranked their radios low
in the idling light each one of them
wearing the scratchy and crooked scarf
it has taken us weeks and weeks to knit.

first appeared in Prairie Schooner


It was only a joke: her two big sisters
mailing the note to her they had managed to type
on their father’s Remington Rand, saying
the Russians are going to bomb
your bedroom today, signed “The Russians”
and telling her she would be safe
if she took off her clothes and went to the attic
alone with no food or juice
just Davey, her stuffed cocker spaniel,
and hid all day in the crease of the folded cot;
so she and the toy dog stayed in that hot, woody dark,
the blue ticked mattress and springs holding them close
like a cloth-and-wire angel, the feathery moths
sipping the sweat on her neck and toes.
When they sounded the all-clear triangle
they had snuck home from the first-grade
orchestra, and stamped up the slivery stairs
loud as police, she cried, but only a little, glad
that the Russians had had a change
of heart, and dropped the bomb
next door, killing just the McLaughlins’
poor noisy parakeet, that they
were her sisters, only her sisters,
who loved her, and that she could smell
the hot shepherd’s pie from the kitchen
as they gave her back her white undies
and tee-shirt and corduroy overalls,
as they helped her braid her hair.

first appeared in Black Warrior Review

Prayer for My Sister

May you rise from the earth as a mulberry tree
in spring, a little away from the cabin road,

may the eager wings of your leaves
shiver daintily in the warming snowlight,

may your strife be redeemed as a vixen
free of her rusted trap, limping home
to her hungry kits,

and your dread of God
as a storm cloud heavy with yes,

and your fine, tired hair
as the slim-throated calls of the peepers
at evening,

and your last travail
as the papery buds that flee from April’s gusts,

and your regret as the grief-black fruit
whose sugared inks brighten the beaks
of the fledgling crows,

and the pain that tore your bones
as sunlight calm on the moss-crowned rocks,

and your death as the syllable of mist
on a doe’s mouth

at daybreak, safe
from even the weak sun’s aim.

First appeared in Harvard Divinity Bulletin


 © Frannie Lindsay.