What We Will Not Save If When I Am Beside You

by Sean Thomas Dougherty

There are things that break and there are the things I have entered against and there are the things that no one promised. To speak to you a dream in a strange town and of workers picking strawberries and speaking in Spanish and fields of alfalfa and years ago driving through the great plains and the machines of farmers. When I began to sing to a face very far away. And carried it to the city where no one was named and the factories were dying, I weaved you a crown from a few twigs in the park of used needles. And we carried it like a sparrow’s nest. We were farther from home. And these streets and train tracks where we camped but nothing happens that I can tell for you are holding a tiny candle for someone we’ve lost nor you who mourns, or does not have a mouth but wants to be heard, come with me, and take my hand and together we will pass through the land of long shadows. Word by word we will recite, what we have known all along and I will light a cigarette, a slim ember in the dark to guide you. Like the name of someone. Both apology and praise. The one that goes on. From the small lifetimes which we carry. Of all we have known, their voices a chorus we will ride across the black river, and when we arrive on the far shore tired with mud on our clothes I will turn to you and I will run my fingers through your tangled hair.