My Russian neighbors slumber, they lisp and sigh, they snore. They turn over towards what door. Open or closed, in the cathedral that is coughing, in the mine where they dig the ore that shines. That burns like coal, that heats the house of hems, the skirts that bloom in paisley, red, green, and blue as Ukrainian domes, as tattoos faded on the backs of ex-prisoners, sleeping before they wake for the early shift, and the sound of their cars sparking up in the dark, and the snow falling all around in hush. What music is left, this Prokovfiev too much to bear, this Shastokovitch that we share, piano keys that stutter charts, that mutter fields of dark earth, sunflowers, the digging and the ditch, the shovel and the spade, the cut above the shoulder blade, the ladder of a stitch, that leaves a scar, that when touched opens, opens a map of the body’s archipelago, the islands of moles that stretch across the Northern sea of your back, and the snow ghosting against our bedroom window, choreographing its thousand falling stars.
by Sean Thomas Dougherty
‘What Song is Singing in the Silence of the Snow’ is taken from Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line by Sean Thomas Dougherty. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010. The poem is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.
Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:
Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of nine books including Nightshift Belonging to Lorca, a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and Except by Falling, winner of the 2000 Pinyon Press Poetry Prize from Mesa State College. His awards include two Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowships in Poetry. Known for his electrifying performances, he has toured extensively across North America and Europe. He received an MFA in poetry from Syracuse University and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania where he teaches writing workshops.
In his newest book, Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line, from which ‘What Song is Singing in the Silence of the Snow’ comes, issues of identity and the various complexities of social and cultural history remain central to Dougherty’s poetics. Sasha is a powerful, grief-driven, deeply-felt collection that still manages to find the beautiful and the true, the little epiphanies that give our lives meaning no matter how ephemeral they might be. You can find out more about Sean Thomas Dougherty in an interview on this site, hear him read a poem from this collection here, and hear him read poems from earlier collections on this page.
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