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ARTIST : Anne Lindberg

ARTWORK : parallel 10 (plumbago), 2007  (graphite on board, 2007)

EXHIBITION : “Thoreau Reconsidered” at Concord Art Association (Concord, MA ; fall 2008)

NOTE : artist has seen this poem



Anne Lindberg’s parallel 10 (plumbago), 2007  

How these lines fallen straight
from a single hand
graph the common ancestry of
my kissing cousins.

How their placement in fields
of shine or shade
trace our well-spaced gatherings
at mountain cabins, mistletoed tables.

How their strokes in multitudes
surpass the simple tally
of children’s drawings.
Just as, years ago,
once past the age of pencils,

I couldn’t put a number to
the ardor which grew for him,
my lingering teenage cousin.

How this plumbago keeps
that narrow berth
always between us.


by Therese L. Broderick



About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

One response »


    My goal when composing any poem is to craft a passage of spoken language which is supersaturated with both sound and sense.


    In this poem, I put at least one short “i” or long “I” sound into each line. I choose those sounds for their evocations of thin pencil lines. If I pronounce “between” as “bi tween”, and if I pronounce “common” as “com in” , then I almost succeed (except for two lines) in my objective.

    I think the word “plumbago” sounds exotic, just like cousins can be, just like a first love can be. The word is so intriguing, I just had to include it somehow in my poem.

    I choose “tables” for its sound after considering alternatives: dinners, banquets, foyers.

    I use “berth” as a homophone for “birth.”


    I choose “mistletoe” both because it evokes “kissing,” and because it is a plant from the same natural world shared by plumbago and plumbagos.

    I use “put a number to” to reflect back on the numbers assigned to pencils (according to the amount of graphite), and also to the title of the drawing “parallel 10.”


    The sense of this poem is highly personal, perhaps too much so. As someone who grew up socializing with more than twenty cousins, I want my own daughter to experience that same rich emotional connection. So my family travels to visit relatives now living in Concord, West Concord, and Waltham, MA. When I saw Anne Lindberg’s drawing in the Concord Art Association, its parallel pencil lines brought to mind the parallel relationships of cousins, as well as the parallel experiences of my generation and my daughter’s generation.

    Yes, I did indeed once have a crush on one of my many older male cousins.

    Does this poem have anything to do with Thoreau? Only with regard to the background fact that my own daughter will remember the good times she is having with cousins near Concord, MA.


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