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Bethany Reid

Bethany Reid

The Pear Tree: elegy for a farm

Bethany Reid grew up in southwest Washington on a farm skirted by second-growth timber, in the house where her mother was born. Her father was a logger, her mother described herself as a housewife, but they were pillars of their small Pentecostal church, and the house brimmed with children, music, and books.

After earning an MFA in poetry and a PhD in American Literature from the University of Washington—her faculty advisors were Colleen McElroy and Dickinson scholar Vivian Pollak—Bethany taught writing and literature classes at the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, Edmonds Community College, and, for twenty years, at Everett Community College.

Her earlier poetry books are The Coyotes and My Mom (Bellowing Ark, 1990); Sparrow, which was selected by Dorianne Laux for the Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Award (Big Pencil Press, 2012); and Body My House (Goldfish Press, 2018). Bethany also has two chapbooks, Be Careful (Chuckanut Sandstone, 2005), and The Thing with Feathers (part of Triple No. 10 from Ravenna Press, 2020). Her poems have received numerous awards, including the Jeanne Lohmann Prize, and Calyx Journal’s Lois Cranston Memorial Prize. Her poems, short stories, and essays appear in many on-line and print publications, including Poetry Northwest, Adelaide, Prairie Schooner, Heartwood, Persimmon Tree, The MacGuffin, Peregrine, One Art, Catamaran, Kithe , and The Dewdrop.

Now retired from full-time teaching, Bethany divides her days between walking and writing. She has a passion for writers and writing of all sorts, leads a writing group, works with writers one-on-one, and teaches poetry classes whenever she has the chance. She and her husband live in Edmonds, Washington, near their three grown daughters. You can learn more about her at


By Carmen Germain in Escape Into Life

By Debra Elisa in L. I. T.

By Barbara Lloyd McMichael in Our Coast Weekend


The Pear Tree: elegy for a farm: $17.99

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Poem from The Pear Tree: elegy for a farm

World Book Encyclopedia

D fell apart at the color plate of dogs.
Under G, gems dazzled
with exotic names, ruby,

tourmaline, topaz. We adored
the solar system with its twirling planets,
opened H so often to Human Anatomy

our fingerprints grimed
the transparent overlays,
bones, organs, muscles, skin.

Nights, I whispered breeds
of horses like a prayer—
Arabian, Morgan, Paint,

Appaloosa, Palomino…
I was always the child most keen for study,
reading novels about India

and China, the moors
of England, the moons of Jupiter.
How did grown-ups stand

this ordinary life of house and barn
and church, same duties,
same faces, same meat and potatoes

season after season, when the world
in books beckoned? Yet there was
our mother, satisfied to call

our five names aloud: her India,
her Appaloosa, her bright moons.

The Pear Tree: elegy for a farm