Mary M. Brown

Bouquet, astilbe & rue

The Nursery by William Merritt Chase


When their anniversary knifes
its way into May again, she
remembers the cake: too sincere
and simple to recognize it
as a bad omen, she’d giggled
when it was clear

there wasn’t enough
for all the guests, assumed
she’d made another silly mistake
in calculating or ordering

when she had not. What difference
does it make, she’d tried to ask
herself back then, if everyone
has cake, but then decided not

to eat a piece herself, just took
a bite of his, hardly noticed that
it wasn’t very good. The cut of

that is sharpest now,
an ache when everything
else is blossoming.


About the writer:
Mary M. Brown lives with her husband Bill in Anderson, Indiana. She taught literature and creative writing at Indiana Wesleyan University for many years. Her work appears on the Poetry Foundation and American Life in Poetry websites and recently in Rockvale Review, Plough, and JJournal. Recent work has appeared in 2019 in New Poetry from the Midwest and Thimble. She is the poetry editor of Flying Island.

Image: The Nursery by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). Oil on panel. 35.6 x 40.6 cm. 1890. By free license.