Cumberland River Review, 4:1 (Spring 2015)






The black dog settles his chin

on the edge of the bed,

works it onto my pillow. 

He inches his nose-tip to mine

and breathes humid day

into my night-breath. 

Canned sardines and damp Saltines.

Fumed out of dreaming,

I squint into his grave brown stare. 

He needs to know that I will rise.

My hand finds his wide head,

a long soft ear. Satisfied,

he curls onto the floor,

begins at once to snore. 


In this dim half-waking, 

my spirit remembers fear

and cannot keep from returning

to the one child I was not unable

to bring into the world.

My face lowers, until—there—

her milkish breath, the rise and fall

of thin cotton, her rare small chest.

Holidays, she returns. As if a ghost,

I crack open her bedroom door. 

Dark hair frames a woman’s face,

but her mouth is her newborn mouth.

If she opens her eyes, she will laugh,

then she will leave.