Sean Reagan: Three Poems
Loaves | Family history | Even Now
The dog carries skate bones into the beach grass
for chewing. A secret voice says: this far and no further . . .
In Huntsville, Texas, a man writing a letter learns that he will not die
that night. And the moon pastes itself to the backs of gathering storm clouds.
One uncle sleeps in a storage locker, another was acquitted
of murder. The family proctor whispers: you know he did it. You did it, too.
A poem that wants a spider in it wants more than just to eat. Rabbits nibble
stems of hollyhock beginning to lean in late summer sunlight. Prayers for mercy
tangle themselves when confronted: from whom to whom? And memory insists
that the dead visit and are witnesses to our grief. In Eastham, Massachusetts,
a man wakes up from a dream of chameleons whose tongues have been cut out.
The spider works in darkness to seal its web to the cellarwell. Don’t say:
I am hungry and this is what I want. Say: I will feed myself and teach you how to eat.
A dragonfly circles the lawn. Dew dries where the dog slept.
The wind smells of the ocean and of cool green tea. A man wakes up
and goes to the window where the hollyhock is beginning to droop.
Yesterday, he scavenged tidal pools with his daughter for heart-shaped
green rocks. Neither of them spoke. She probably heard him later,
when she was supposed to be asleep, drinking and laughing with others
at how sad and crazy their family is. This man is haunted by something
that he must turn quickly towards if he wants to see. So far,
he has only turned slowly. The green rocks they found have dried
on the window sill to something less than the sea. He knows
this matters only to him. Yesterday, the voices of women
talking on the jetty were distilled by sunlight and distance
to merely wind. The man wakes his daughter and says:
it is not true what you heard. Your mother walked
out of the ocean carrying you. We lived like that,
on sand and rocks and wind, for a long time.
Clouds. And leaves the color they become
just before they die brilliantly. Gray fur
on the blackberries and tracks of deer
nearly invisible in the dust. He comes here
daily to see if he is different from how the forest
recalls him. But nothing is clear anymore. Perhaps
he has not worked hard enough, he thinks,
turning to go back the way he used to hunt
with his father in autumn. Apple and birch
trees and sapling maples no thicker
than his thumb edge steadily into the field
where he and his father discussed the Lord
and cleaned their guns. Perhaps it is simply
that life crowds into any open space,
like cells dividing. He recalls not so much the substance
of their conversation but how it never stopped
or quieted, so that what they hunted buried itself
in shadows and wouldn’teven nowventure out.
Sean Reagan is a lawyer by training, currently on an extended hiatus from criminal practice to stay home with his three-year-old daughter. "It's infinitely more challenging, tedious and rewarding than lawyering ever was," he writes. "In between toilet training, doing laundry and singing the alphabet, I write." His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Yankee Magazine, Black Bear Review, PoetryBay.com and dozens of others.