Jim Harrison’s “Molly the Brave” is a great memoir poem. It’s inspiring, in its simplicity, clarity, detail. Harrison also earns his capper line, the insight he leads himself and us to in the poem. Whether you’re a poet, or working on a memoir, or simply a lover of good writing, give yourself a treat, and read on!
Molly the Brave
by Jim Harrison
Molly was the bravest
In April she would swing out
over the river on a rope
tied to an elm branch. There was still
ice along the bank and one day
her body was found down by the weir
with a bruised head, which meant she hit ice.
One summer evening she hugged me in her wet
black bathing suit after I brought her a milk shake.
My blood became hot and moved in all directions.
When we caught frogs to eat their legs
she said, ”We are animals.” And on the hill
by the river we illegally picked trillium.
All the boys wanted to marry her.
We kept putting the wildflowers she loved
on her grave. More than sixty years
later I see dearly-that no one gets over anything
least of all Molly by the river,
swinging up through the air—
“Molly the Brave” by Jim Harrison from Dead Man’s Float. © Copper Canyon Press, 2016.
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Thanks to The Writer’s Almanac for this poem. You can get a poem a day if you subscribe to their email list.