Mark Conway

15. White: Echo

from The Book of Isaac, Burning


As white shutters and as white
As tourniquet,
As black
As creeks,
As numerous
As glass, the window shattered,
            kindly, to save the fist
As groan, as famine feeds thin dogs, the father falls
As pinetrees into pitch, as tongs
            hammered into sleep so hard you can’t stand it,
      that’s what dawn is.


After the candles gutter,
after the hall,
after the shut door, the hesitation,
the shut door


After the son dies, fathers.–



After the son dies.–



After a son dies a father
is no father. When
the father is strong enough
to dig the grave, they
won’t let him. He is strong enough
to lie down and they won’t let him.
Sit here, they say, but he won’t let them
help him. Help him.


“15. White: Echo” (from The Book of Isaac, Burning) was first published in The Journal, Fall 2001.