Rebecca Lauren: "Dearth"




The day you planned to tell your dad

you never wanted to see him again


they dragged a dead body out of the house

down the road. We watched from the second-floor window


then roof deck, then street. You said to the mourners

We’re new, but we’re sorry. Knock on our door if you need


anything. You started the laundry. The cops left;

our dogs barked to fill the silence. There was so much


clothing to wash that day –jeans’ knees stained

with garden dirt, the city’s ash darkening the whites.


I asked, Do you think they can hear our music? We were playing

Sinatra, Chuck Berry, a little Ella. You said songs


wouldn’t reach the room across the street 

where someone’s hat lay vacant of hair and ears and soul.


Then, quick as breath, your father arrived at our door

very much wanting to talk of his dearth in your life—


the dogs, the summer, our choking garden. Outside, a hearse

double-parked. Two men emerged, bone-tired.


The body bag was cumbrous, weighted with heft—

asseveration dead on the tongue.


Rebecca Lauren lives in Philadelphia and teaches English at Eastern University.  Her poetry has been published in Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Southeast Review, and Cincinnati Review. Her chapbook, The Schwenkfelders, won the 2009 Keystone Chapbook Prize and was published in 2010 by Seven Kitchens Press. She is the managing editor for Saturnalia Books.