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My First Real Tree

FootHills Publishing, Wheeler Hill, New York, is pleased to announce the release of "My First Real Tree" by Jayne Relaford Brown.

Jayne Relaford Brown received an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego
State University and teaches writing at Penn State Berks-Lehigh Valley
College.  She lives near Kutztown, Pennsylvania with her partner of fifteen

"My First Real Tree is a daring expedition into the treacherous realm of open-heartedness. By delving into intimacy's varied forms--and the many forms of courage that true intimacy requires--Jayne Relaford Brown directs our attention to where it is most needed and reminds us of things we need to remember. I relish these thoughtful, tender, clear-eyed poems."

Gerry Gomez Pearlberg, author of "Mr. Bluebird" and "Marianne Faithfull's Cigarette"

"After many, many readings of Jayne Relaford Brown's stunning poem "Finding Her Here," I still cannot speak her words aloud without weeping. Her images touch me in ways I can't explain. Is it the sensousness of her "full moons" and "deep weathered baskets," or the way she acknowledges those years when life was hard, the survivorship? Maybe it is simply that I sense that she used to look in those mirrors as I did as a child, searching for something I could not possibly find: perfection. Like many women, I spent years searching elsewhere for self-worth. But what Brown finds now finds in those mirrors informs and transforms our ideas of perfection, casting an affirming light on our paths toward self-love."

Sandra Haldeman Martz, editor of "When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple,"
"If I had my life to live over I would pick more daisies" and "I Am Becoming the Woman I've Wanted"

From the book:


Proud in my father’s former shirt, my smock,
I measure white and black in every primary pint,
make the butcher paper thick
with tinted blond and gold-rust bark,
to catch a eucalyptus’ branchy sweep,
its dusty green and silver leaves.

Third grade comes, a field trip
to the room that will be theirs next year.
“Gosh,” one whispers. “Look what she can do!”
And this is not a lollipop I’ve drawn,
not the stick and circle of my youth.
It is my first real tree.
Because I’ve been given art to see.

“Look,” Miss Desmond told us.  “Not a line
across the top.  The blue of sky
goes the whole way down.”
     How could that be?
The air around me’s clear,
just blue when I look up.
“Look farther out,” she pointed. “See the hills?”
And then I saw it—sky reached
all the way to earth.  I lived in sky!
All day long I’d spun around, tried to see
the blue I must be walking through.

I smile at those children, sight beyond
my out-held brush toward my tree.
Soon enough they’ll see.  This year they think
the sky is like a ceiling, still feel satisfied
with eight or sixteen crayons, have no idea
that light hits everything along one side,
that shadows huddle under fruit and basketballs,
that everything converges, disappears
in one small dot at the world’s edge.


I am becoming the woman I’ve wanted,
grey at the temples,
soft body, delighted,
cracked up by life
with a laugh that’s known bitter,
but, past it, got better,
knows she’s a survivor—
that whatever comes,
she can outlast it.
I am becoming a deep
         weathered basket.

I am becoming the woman I’ve longed for,
the motherly lover
with arms strong and tender,
the growing-up daughter
who blushes surprises.
I am becoming full moons
        and sunrises.

I find her becoming,
this woman I’ve wanted,
who knows she’ll encompass,
who knows she’s sufficient,
knows where she’s going
and travels with passion.
Who remembers she’s precious,
yet not at all scarce—
who knows she is plenty,
        plenty to share.

My First Real Tree is a 68 page paperback, hand-sewn, with flat spine - $14.00

ISBN:  0-941053-22-9

(Wholesale orders - standard discount rate applies. For more information or to send an order contact FootHills Publishing -

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FootHills Publishing
PO Box 68
Kanona, NY 14856

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