Sean Dougherty

Dear tiara (for e)

I dreamed I was a mannequin in the pawnshop window of your conjectures.

I dreamed I was a chant in the mouth of a Monk, saffron robed syllables in the religion of You.

I dreamed I was a lament to hear the deep sorrow places of your lungs.

I dreamed I was a gym whistle, blow me.

I dreamed I was your bad instincts.

I dreamed I was a hummingbird sipping from the tulip of your ear.

I dreamed I was your ex-boyfriend stored in the basement with your old baggage.

I dreamed I was a jukebox where every song sang your name.

I dreamed I was an elevator, rising in the air-shaft of your misgivings.

I dreamed I was a library fine,  I've checked you out too long so many times.

I dreamed you were a lake and I was a little fish leaping through the thin reeds of your throaty humming.

I must've dreamed I was a nail, because I awoke beside you still hammered.

I dreamed I was a tooth to fill the absences of your old age.

I dreamed I was a Christmas cactus, blooming in the desert of my stupidity.

I dreamed I was a saint's hair-shirt,  sewn with the thread of your saliva.

I  dreamed I was an All Night Movie Theater, showing the flickering black reel of my nights before I met you.

I  must've dreamed I was gravity, I've fallen for you so hard.

I must've dreamed I was a sparrow, how I eat the bread of your regrets.

I dreamed I was a pawnshop when you walked in with the ticket to redeem every piece of my ruined life.


Humming much better but none You, no adornment, wits unraveling like sure.

Work to two, the stairwell of spiraling You through the chapel of what to well, the truth so momentary it might mean anything

threadbare, for fret is grief and music's neck, for fret is muddle and name bequest, where not or note, not signature or sign, this time, but letter to my oldest ghosts, cutting smoke, eating form, afraid of the book I was, you grew.  In the rooms where You no longer -


I have fallen in love with the pink house.

It is a child's house, so small that to walk through its door is to nudge at the night, to push into its ribs.  Awake, she said, and spoke to him with question marks like the interrogation of an unkind sentence.

It was made for a child, though it has been a long time since anyone lived in our apartment. My sixty-something year old neighbor Nora says, I can't remember the last time someone lived in the downstairs. Only a woman moved in that house you live in now, upstairs in her own house made of bricks.

Nora's son, who is a long man, says when he was a schoolboy the woman would sit all day; a frail ghost staring down from the second floor at the pink house that is five feet tall and made of wood.  It sits on a stone foundation in my back yard underneath an elm.  It has a window with a screen.  It has a door-less frame.

Too many nights, the man rose himself to sit on the back porch while his woman slept.  He didn't smoke, longed for the ritual of puff and drag, the moon sometimes curved as her ribs, where he placed his hand when he returned to bed and she would turn and tightly close her lasso of arms around his neck.

I sit on my back porch smoking and I see a spider has made a web in the door.

Now something is living in the pink house where for so long nothing lived.  I wish I had a spider to live in the house with me, a spider to build a web that would glisten and catch the light the way the woman would glisten as she stepped dripping from the shower, how she would reach for me and pull me in with her arms.

Her skin that smells of jeweled rain.

To not breath he thought sometimes, not wanting to wake her, he loved her in the cavernous space of saying goodbye.  Her jabs drove him to a terrible place he thought he'd done.  He turned the hands of the broken clock.  "It just needs a battery," he told her. But when he replaced it, it was stuck at 7:27.

What if there is a word, to shift the thought, to sleep the eyes.  What if there is the outrage that she heard in her head, her slamming shut the cabinets for something never done?

I feel the threads she wove of jeweled rain.

I and she would sit on the back porch in the dark, after making love, we would sit in the quiet hum of the air conditioner next door, staring at our pink house.

Silence, so quiet he can hear the trees breathe, and then the hum of the air conditioner in the apartment building next door, strangers cool in the white sheets, strangers drunk and staggering in dark apartment halls, and he in shadows spooling threads, spooling the praise of every jumbled thing, grinding the gears the world hears, the reels of movie light, only to falter.

When a spider makes a web it must make a kind of music.  With a tiny microphone we could hear its mouth spinning threads to make the dead.

Once, after the woman had yelled at me, I fled into the pink house and hid there: a grown man hiding in a child's house.

I held my face and wept.  I could not find the words to make her stop and so said words that missed the smallness of her hands and when I turned away from fighting she said I hurt her.  When I stayed and fought I hurt her more.

The spider is waiting in the door, waiting for some fragile winged thing to fall.  The spider does not care how the light catches its web and makes it sing; he wants to hide, a still thing waiting.  He wants to eat.

What glistens is fragile and catches the light.

Once a girl he never knew played in this backyard house.  She did not have a backyard swing.  To build a house like this that lasts for so long must be a sign of love, his woman said.  Now at night, the train whistles down 12th street and he wishes he were shooting pool, zagging jabs with his boys (long since men), even wishes for work, a truck to load, nightshift worker on the docks, and afterwards the long walk to the river to smoke and watch the gulls rise through the mills.

As much as the girl's father, molding the concrete, hammering the roof. Her father must have known when we are small we must practice these things.

If only you and I had stood up from the porch and squeezed ourselves into the pink house we could have practiced there.

In that small space we could have learned to love.  My woman, stoop shouldered - laughing - pouring the tea.