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  • If
  • Brent Pallas (bio)

. . . if I acted otherwise . . .

—Charles Darwin, Notebook C

If his Grandfather had spared him the lyrics,       the unbridled couplings of leaf, verb             and verse. If the river had not flowed into meadows where a boy strayed       with pebbles and sticks filling his pockets             and the husk of whatever opening for a moment its world within him.       His nose big as a fist and waiting             for him to grow into it; beside the old gardener Abberley, the scent       of moss and earth beneath his nails,             as wings beat through the leaves and rain hyphenated the windows       of all those afternoons that strayed             into evenings curled beneath a table turning the pages of Robinson Crusoe. If those pages had never been turned.             Scolded, minded and fussed about by sisters. If he had not thrown       a marble and killed a hare, been spoiled             by a nursemaid, lost his mother, lied about birds, a tiger on the stairs,       felt the spark attention flared, persuaded             polyanthuses and primroses to turn blue, run very fast, and sat down       beside the Doctor on his way in a yellow             carriage. If his father had not recorded every spoon, bushel and pound       the household spent, frowned             on carelessness, a string of detail left untied. If he had not watched       a meadow made small by the sky             or the wind shaking every soft fold, stammered through a maze of Latin       and adored sweets; his dog's nose, [End Page 43]             so little and dear as a button black and shining and poking through the gate.       And if only he had not always had such             difficulty pronouncing his w's.

Brent Pallas

Brent Pallas lives and works in New York City as an illustrator and craft/home project designer for magazines. His poetry has appeared in the Southern Review, 2RV, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry, Gettysburg Review, the New England Review and other journals.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 43-44
Launched on MUSE
2006-09-11
Open Access
No
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