Sean Reagan


In the middle of the night the Lord comes to ask
about my greed. I tell him instead we should talk
about faith. Not anger? he says gently, there in the dark.

Anger, too, I say at last. We are both quiet a moment.
Of what you asked for - the mountain, its trails
to the river, hours alone in rooms with no window,

the silence unopened by birds or other singing.
I know I know, I say. I am up on one elbow
on the futon trying to see him. Maybe there

in the corner where my wife’s shirt hangs
whitely. Or perhaps he is sitting where our books
are piled. I say to him, I need faith, more so, to believe

fiercely, and the ferocity to make something lovely
with your gifts. No, he says, calmly. There is a rustle
below the window but it is just the cat

brushing the curtain. The moon slips into the room
the way water seeps into sand. The light everywhere,
on my wife’s shoulder, my daughter’s chin as she lifts it

breathing. This is my Jerusalem, I say quietly,
meaning it. I come to it knowing. The Lord laughs
at my insolence. You want too much, he says. And

don’t know what you want. Like Peter? I say, teasing,
when he was up on the mountain with your son and asked
to put up tents? Different, says the Lord. I can tell

he is ready to leave. Don’t go, I say. You haven’t taught
me faith. Please, I beg him, open my heart like you did Joseph
into Egypt. But different, says the Lord, again, and disappears.

I make notes for later. It is the same conversation always:
ignoring the obvious to go on with crutches. Yet he keeps
coming back as if delighted or amused. As if mending

what is broken does not concern him. Perhaps
there are no mysteries, only this longing
to play the familiar game getting less so all the time.



It has to do with walking Jake
to the mountain. Jake far ahead
or just catching up. Tracing fox tracks
in the snow while the deer bound away

and owls disappear into the pines.
Chickadees always, and crows. In summer
lingering where the blackberries grow. In winter
stopping to catch our breath near the valley

where in summer we watched as a fox crept towards us.



The fox watches me from the other side of a narrow valley.
When I turn away he disappears into the forest.
When I look back: nothing. So my soul steps outside
of me, one or two steps only, towards where the fox was.
I call her back in low tones, saying, not yet not yet. But soon.


I tell the Lord about my enemies as we walk beside the river.
Names, motives and what I know, for now, of their history.
A red-winged blackbird sails away towards the marsh below

the ridge. Shall I smite them for you the Lord asks, playful
but willing. I consider. Though plentiful, they are, in truth,
only marginally able. But still. The first robin of Spring

settles on the trail before me. No, I say at last, let them be another
day. Though he says nothing, the Lord is pleased with my decision.
As I am pleased differently. Both of us for the time being.



The river with its white saddle of ice.
Three colts following each other to the barn.
The open crest of the mountain the color of burnt leaves.
And my daughter coming to me with a question -
why does the red fox in the far field always disappear?

So my morning fills with grace. So my body lifts a little,
like a blown leaf, as I climb the ridge away from the sun.
Lifts, then settles back down onto the trail and keeps going.
I hear behind me a rustling, as though I were followed,
but when I turn, nothing. I will say to her: the fox

is waiting for us to let our lives slip gently off us,
like rain off the yellow bells of squash plants,
like butterflies tossed in a storm-coming wind. Like
the old woman at dusk, by the window, folding and re-
folding her favorite scarf, the one that she wore when she was young.

Sean Reagan lives and writes in Worthington, Massachusetts, and has poems in, or forthcoming in, Yankee Magazine, Rattle, Chiron Review, Black Bear Review and other journals.



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