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My Grief Grows A White Flower 

Tonight it is my grief who speaks
beneath the dying laurel tree

in late bloom, this spring evening.
Silence is its rotting womb

eaten from the inside by red ants,
the hole in the black center

of its trunk, my daughters can not
climb or its limbs will break,

the one your father planted
when you were first born,

now like you it bends
in the coming storm, the clouds

that push across the slate sky.
Nothing stills its weeping,

nothing is hushed, the branches 
sway a slow dirge, & Death,

who has become my companion,
I hear beneath the wailing wind

the quiet click of his boney fingers
weaves a wreath of fallen thorns.



I nodded into the wet dog smell of it

heaved it over my back,
carried it like a man

who bears a wooden cross,
he will nail himself to—


Grief’s Familiar Rooms

Sometimes I am ok
even though when I come home

from work,
I still sit in your chair for hours

without taking my coat off
pulling at its  buttons

that are not answers—  


Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author or editor of 13 books including All You Ask for Is Longing: Poems 1994- 2014 (2014 BOA Editions) Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press) and Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line (2010 BOA Editions). His awards include two Pennsylvania Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry, a US Fulbright Lectureship to the Balkans, and an appearance in Best American Poetry 2014. He works in a pool hall in Erie, Pennsylvania, and tours for readings.