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About this Poem 

“‘I Could Let You Go’ was an opportunity to imagine a ritual for saying goodbye. I wanted this poem to become something more, something sturdy, like a vessel that could hold and carry away something heavy.”
Thomas Dooley

I Could Let You Go

as if opening a crepe sail
on a raft of linden
downriver with no
glacial cut swerve down
soft like bourbon if I could
ask the waters then
to chop to shake
an apology when you cry
I feel a wet bank in me
ring dry here I’ll wrap you
in the piano shawl from the upright
to your fists a spray
of dandelion and comb my last
compassion to grasp.
Goodbye, friend. Willows
dip to your lips
dew from their leafed
digits feast now
on the cold blue soup
of sky the iron from bankwater
gilts your blood I’ll break
a bottle on your gunwale
and read broken
poems from the shore
as the dark river
curls back white from the cheap timber
as if letting what’s made to drift
drift.

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Dooley. Used with permission of the author. 

Copyright © 2014 by Thomas Dooley. Used with permission of the author. 

Thomas Dooley

Thomas Dooley

Thomas Dooley is the author of Trespass (Harper Perennial, 2014). He is artistic director of Emotive Fruition, a theater collective of actors and poets in New York. He lives in Brooklyn. 

by this poet

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You tried to take
my red metals with your wolf jaw tongs

to forge a body never to be flame-licked again
but I reached out and held you

by the throat, pressed
my ear to your chest that meadow

startled with magpies.
You are not the first man

who tried to make my body a

2
poem

And there was evening, humid
with lightning, when my father

fell to the earth like summer hail,
scattered. I gathered

my mother, we threw in
a handful of pebbles. And

there was morning, bitterly.
There was evening news

bluing walls, violet morning
on thunderheads,

2