Jean Valentine wrote open the door in the mountain
Or was it the sky?
The child on the poster disappeared
as if a door opened in the sidewalk.
Open the door in the kitchen to find
their mother scrolling through photos.
Who opens the door of the minutes
from one life to the next? A door
on the corner. A door in the wind.
The day we opened the door
of the clinic. The door
to a room where even the gowns
were cold. Oh small one
we did not keep. The doctor
walking in through that door
in my chest,
the one you can walk right through—
The man has a mark under his left eye, a small abrasion, cut as if from his fingernail. Did you scratch yourself in your sleep? “No,” he says, and touches the mark with two fingers. “It was the bird,” he says. “I was dreaming the bird came. But the bird wouldn't sing. The bird said, I will leave you a birthmark. This is how we will know you when you are born again with wings.”
Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of twenty books including the forthcoming Death Prefers the Minor Keys (2023 BOA Editions). He works as a medtech and caregiver for folks with traumatic brain injuries, and teaches part-time as a Graduate Mentor for the MFA Program at Western Connecticut University.