Poetry by Sean Thomas Dougherty: “These Ordinary Days”

Out of the brown bag I place
the red wine and sack of sugar

I swing our eldest daughter
despite my swollen knee

and fix you coffee with cream,
and the clouds swirl like the unsayable

our daughters curly headed
and crying, run out

the glass porch door,
I watch them through

an invisible window
Like the one between us

and how I no longer
wake up with my eyes

and your mouth near
my mouth how you have to bend

your bones into a curve
because of your back

and the wounds on your foot,
and the girls are screaming

they have found a grasshopper
and I pray they do not pull

off its legs, these simple living things
I’ve come to love, and a crow

is cawing high above, and our smallest daughter
is blowing dandelion wishes

that suspend the air
and still breathing, we read the paper

and the weather says rain
and your mother and the horoscopes

are good news and I cut an onion
and maybe we will grill hotdogs

and some corn.
And the girls are napping, and you
now are leaning against the sink

in pain, and how can I explain
and cross this far away county

between us the fields
we ran, the smoky places

where you held my head like a prayer
and said my name

and the years you’ve gathered,
your teeth gone, the lines

like letters carved around your eyes,
a kind of runes I cannot read,

and so I take your hand, and I turn
on the faucet and let it run.

And the dishes are done.
And your mother is a shadow

moving toward sleep
through the blue light

of some detective flick.
And the extra shifts

your father is snoring
for money and to hide,

and we all have eaten,
and our daughters

are so young but somehow know
not to ask that afternoon

on the sidewalk we drew words
and butterflies in chalk,

and then the erasure of the rain
became a beautiful blur

a blur we became drinking wine
until you went to the bathroom

to unwrap your bandages
for hours, and the pain.

And how empty the bed remains
every night that undented space

in the exact shape of your body
is the absence I trace

these ordinary days against dying

 

 

***

Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of seventeen books including The Second O of Sorrow (BOA Editions, 2018), co-winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize, and Alongside We Travel: Contemporary Poets on Autism (NYQ Books, 2019). He works as a Med Tech in Erie, Pennsylvania. His website is seanthomasdoughertypoet.com.

Image: theverge.com

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