Vox Populi

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Sharon Fagan McDermott: What I Won’t Tell Myself

The moon salts the sky with stars and the only sounds in the house

are the dog’s breath and the furnace’s belch through old pipes.

On this coldest night of winter, I huddle beneath comforters.

On my nightstand, books pile five high, pages bent

at corner edges, annotated, smudged. My young dog twitches a dream

against my calf. I cannot sleep. I’m afraid of how old I’ve become.

The screens that distracted me all day long with insolent voices

and their bloated sense of significance are now just dark

in a dark room. I suck hard at the air. I’m afraid I’ve stopped breathing.

A car’s headlights skins the bedroom ceiling, leaves blue hollows.

I’m afraid I can no longer cry. When I was a girl, before I’d sleep,

I’d read my mother’s girlhood collection of British novels

shivering when the children died from “brain fever”

or “consumption,” or when the heroine lost herself

on the wild moor. Mosquitoes needled at my window screens.

Even then, I feared there was no safe place. But I shared my room

with two older sisters whose muffled voices would bring me back

to blankets, sills, the old moon. Back to summer nights

after backyard play when I made sure to unscrew the lids

of jars, so as to return fireflies—those wayfaring lights—

to the space between dark stems, dark blades.

Copyright 2018 Sharon Fagan McDermott. From Life Without Furniture (Jacar Press)


Sharon Fagan McDermott is a poet, musician, and a teacher of literature at a private school in Pittsburgh, PA. Her most recent collection of poetry, Life Without Furniture, published by Jacar Press (2018) wrestles with finding and feeling at home in the world and seeking sanctuary in an often challenging life.

3 comments on “Sharon Fagan McDermott: What I Won’t Tell Myself

  1. rosemaryboehm
    January 9, 2021

    A stunning poem. Thank you.

    For this alone: “My young dog twitches a dream
    against my calf.” I’ll now read it again.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Diana Elser
    January 27, 2019

    Stunning poem – writing about aging in a fresh and moving way is a challenge -this goes in my “memorable favorites” file. Beautifully done.

    Liked by 3 people

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This entry was posted on January 19, 2019 by in Health and Nutrition, Poetry and tagged , .

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