Image: Unsplash, downloaded (https://unsplash.com/photos/pVEcNabAg9o) 18.11.2022.
I want to make a poem like a brick she said, uh huh he said, only half listening. He was watching the game. It was a really big game he would tell someone long after. Uh huh. Then she bent her head and started writing. She wrote like the ancient ones, putting a sharpened pencil to a piece of paper pressed from a tree. She wrote and wrote, and then out of the corner of his eye he saw her folding the paper. Hey, she said, uh huh he said, waiting for the next down. Hey, she said, a little louder, who are you? Really? hey hey look at me, look at me for Christ’s sake, and then he turned, that was when she threw it, threw that poem like a brick and it shattered the shut window he had in his chest. Pieces of him flickered and refracted the blue light of the television on the living room floor. Air and light filtered into his body. Psalms of finches he had never paid attention to. A small green iridescent insect. The smell of TV dinners. There he was at five years old, being beaten. There he was at seventeen on that gray hound bus. He stood with this gaping hole in his chest. He couldn’t speak. The game wasn’t even close and the announcers on the TV were asking trivia questions. She walked forward, stretched the hole out with her arms and—what did she do next? Well, she climbed in. She climbed right inside his body. The room became a room of absence. Who am I now, he said? Who were you then, she said, or should I say he told us this story, a long time later out mowing his lawn, a little voice said to him, says to him every day, every time he looks at her, and he pointed back to the house where she waved or was it he pointed to his chest where she stood in the window, sunlight streaming from somewhere deep inside him.
About the Author: Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of 20 books. His latest is the forthcoming Death Prefers the Minor Keys to be published by BOA Editions. He works as a med tech and caregiver for folks with traumatic brain injuries, and teaches part time for the MFA Program at Western Connecticut State University. His many awards include The Paterson Poetry Prize, and a Fulbright Fellowship to Macedonia and the Balkans sponsored by the US State Department.