I held my father’s hand as he died.
The hospice nurse traced the blue under his nails
the way they said in the pamphlet
with the ship sailing off the cover.
Seawater rushes in one ear, out the other.
Two days later a dog came up
to me and my friend on the beach.
His nose brushed my leg.
Tall enough to pet without bending.
Still I continued talking
pulling the thread of some story I’d started.
He didn’t seem to belong to anyone.
No one called him to them.
He stood panting, then took off into the spray.
Motor catching, turning over.
Not what you think but what happens when you let go of thinking.
If I had not wandered, could I be comforted,
had I not ventured into the rain
then asked to come in?
To coax myself into sleep
I’ve imagined love I’ve gathered
as heat in the centre of my body.
Waking, stepped as if from a perfumed bath
If the ball could be a body
soul what the pitcher lays on it
fingers splayed across the seam.
Wherever you look, it’s somewhere else.
Our design unfolds,
bolt of cloth we weave and unweave.
Sometimes to remove the flaw,
sometimes to incorporate it.
Alison Hicks’s books include poetry collections Kiss and Falling Dreams, a novella, Love: A Story of Images, and an anthology, Prompted. Awards include the 2011 Philadelphia City Paper Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her work has appeared in Blood Lotus, Caliban, Eclipse, Fifth Wednesday, Gargoyle, The Hollins Critic, The Louisville Review, Pearl, Permafrost, Quiddity, and Whiskey Island, among other journals. She leads community-based writing workshops under the name Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio.