Joyce Brown, Binary Studies

Joyce Brown

I am learning how to balance
the bright new hip against the old.
The new one’s bigger better.
The old one tends to slouch.

I am learning to balance on a bike.
The new one lets my feet land flat.
The old one threw me to the ground.
I am trying to form a creed

balancing the feel of wind on face,
when it was easy to believe in balance,
against this fear of smooth soft asphalt
which tricks the senses with its tarry hands.

I am riding on joy and fear, balancing
old illusion against new aggression,
daughter’s dimpled belly button against
gash and scar of cancer’s tubes and knives.

Author’s Comment: We all know that our lives can be changed in seconds. In my case, a silly fall from a bike on my birthday which left me debilitated for months and my daughter’s concurrent battle with cancer forced me into a sudden and shaky reminder of that old truism. What once was clashes suddenly with the new what is. Inconvenience rubs up against tragedy’s gateway and sends the mind on its own shaky journey.

Bio: After completing degrees in English Language and Literature, Joyce Compton Brown studied Appalachian culture and literature at Berea College and creative writing at Appalachian State and Hindman School in Kentucky. She taught at Gardner-Webb University, publishing scholarly articles and reviews on Southern and Appalachian culture and literature and writing a column for The Shelby Star. She currently lives in her former home town of Troutman, NC, publishing in journals such as Kakalak, Now and Then, and PineSong. Her chapbook, Bequest, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015, and she was featured poet at the Doris Betts Literary Festival in 2016. She also enjoys painting and maintains her interest in old-time banjo and ancient balladry.

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