I had the pleasure of meeting Sean Thomas Dougherty at AWP last month. I'd missed a recent reading of his in the Detroit area maybe a month or two earlier and had heard a bit about him. Some books, great performer, etc. What I didn't realize is that this man who is a scant year older than myself has already published 9 collections of poetry. His next one up, Broken Hallelujahs, will see the light of day June 2007 thanks to BOA Editions. It is from this forthcoming collection that The Sky Inside comes.
The Sky Inside
My grandfather’s hand opens and there is a sky inside. The sky is blue
above the hayfields of Western Hungary. It is the Uzhgorod sky. Inside
the field of my grandfather’s palm is a tiny hay cart, pulled by a slow-
paced mare, with white-tipped tail, a woman with a red babushka gathering
(some indigenous flower) on a far hillside. A (bird) flies over my
grandfather’s wind-tossed hair – he is laughing at a joke in a language I
do not understand, a tiny laughter like the wheeze of a sick child, there
in his breathing, what is that roughness – then the sandpaper against
my ears, the cough that pulls back the walls to this room. This room. The
open curtains and the day gray with the threat of rain. My grandfather’s
nostrils hooked up to the oxygen tank. He opens his mouth to breathe
like a carp, gasping. I want to close my eyes but I reach for his arms. His
hand flexes slightly, closes, then opens again, like a lung. Like a tiny ac-
cordian. Adjusting the morphine. The anesthetic music.
I love the beginning of this poem, which to me signifies the boy being amazed by his grandfather's stories. The opening of his hand leading to wonderful things. As the poem moves forward and the reader realizes that this is some reminiscing while at the grandfather's potential deathbed, the stories take on even more power.