When the Whole, As If Many, That Message
Sound Uncle in three tongues, black suits
by the East River. A lifetime ago
they watched women
washing white cloth
in a muddy stream. Dayshift or nightshift,
floating from fire-escapes, open windows
where women lean, watching (waiting).
vestigial: all three point
inside this language,
to what sighs across the unintended fields.
To write as if not a funeral,
but an exhalation.
There are so many dead.
From a Battery Park bench, old men listen
to the brims of their Fedoras.
I gather one like a gesture
grabs for—a book,
in his lap, nodding out,
his reading glasses
dangling from a string—
Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of seven books of poems and prose including the forthcoming Broken Hallelujahs (Boa Editions), and Nightshift Belonging to Lorca (2004 Mammoth Books), which was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize. He teaches in the BFA Program for Creative Writing at Penn State Erie. (10/2005)