who'd put down the drink––
decades of shouting coiled in quiet––

sat forward on his folding chair:
What should he do about the son

who wouldn't speak, who posted
I wish he were dead. I offered

one of our bromides, and he stared,
twisting fingers and lips.

Where was the angel
to lift him by the hair

as he twisted in the avernal current?
If I have wings, they’re dog’s wings,

my old body a dog’s, floating
over the cold eye.



(Copyright © 2015 by Joan Larkin. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any medium, print or electronic, without the author’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews. First published in The New England Review, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2015: New England Review, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753, www.nereview.com.)