Meghan O'Rourke


There was a lot to be done before I grew.
The flowery bedspread had to go.

Then the voice. Hello. I taped myself
getting dressed, mouthing “I understand your concern.”

I rose early. I read books
downstairs before anyone was awake.

My parents told me to go outside.
Diving downward through the river.

Glimpses of bridges; peering upward through the blue
as faces climbed away. I wrote it down.

On my hand, a pine tree, sap
you can’t wash off. Love.

A line of cars humming down the road in silence. Then silence.
The ditch beside the empty house, the rivulets,

the sun just leaving, the red light
retreating, the sun, the ditch, the house.


"Checklist" is from Halflife (W. W. Norton, 2007).