I Could Let You Go

Thomas Dooley

as if opening a crepe sail
on a raft of linden
downriver with no
glacial cut swerve down
soft like bourbon if I could
ask the waters then
to chop to shake
an apology when you cry
I feel a wet bank in me
ring dry here I’ll wrap you
in the piano shawl from the upright
to your fists a spray
of dandelion and comb my last
compassion to grasp.
Goodbye, friend. Willows
dip to your lips
dew from their leafed
digits feast now
on the cold blue soup
of sky the iron from bankwater
gilts your blood I’ll break
a bottle on your gunwale
and read broken
poems from the shore
as the dark river
curls back white from the cheap timber
as if letting what’s made to drift
drift.

More by Thomas Dooley

Passage

And there was evening, humid
with lightning, when my father

fell to the earth like summer hail,
scattered. I gathered

my mother, we threw in
a handful of pebbles. And

there was morning, bitterly.
There was evening news

bluing walls, violet morning
on thunderheads, and the evening

when morning
would never again light our bodies in bed.

Morning caravans, headlights,
evening. A long caravan of evenings. Then

there was only me, morning. Awake in a room
in a building vast with rooms. Everyone

evening. Everyone morning. And God
had finished all the work he had been doing—

babies, honeybees, spreadsheets, winter
mornings. I said,

I will not stop here, evening. I’ll see you
in the morning.

Abraham and Isaac

You tried to take
my red metals with your wolf jaw tongs

to forge a body never to be flame-licked again
but I reached out and held you

by the throat, pressed
my ear to your chest that meadow

startled with magpies.
You are not the first man

who tried to make my body a smoke.
But here I am

to silver the air and surround you
like a sky vast enough

to take your embers into itself;
I’ve been made to carry your fires.