"I climbed a mountain for the view, but the view
refused me, clouded over and left me stranded
in my meagerness."
Sean Sutherland has had poems published in the literary magazines: The Florida Review, The Sandhills Literary magazine, Hypertext, The Sky Island Journal, among other journals, along with the 30th anniversary anthology; The Writers Studio at 30, and The Maine Review, for which he won honorable mention for their poetry prize in 2015. He was nominated for a Pushcart by the literary magazine Sleet in 2019. Two of his poems were selected for an anthology titled, Poetry for the Actor- A Guide to Deeper Truth. Sean is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and would like to find more time for camping in a tent!
by Sean Sutherland
Did you take long walks in that time of our great loneliness together? Most days I stared out the window and waited like a dog for someone to come home, though I live alone. I noticed the big oak outside, and aimed my chair towards it at 6:30 am for weeks, until its leaves shined like glass, as something awful was on its way, and the streets were empty with it. After; I fell in love with a house on my walks, overgrown with ivy, hardly visible. Rags for curtains exhaled in its windows, and a man called it insulting, but said someone was taking the mail inside. My visits like touch, and because it had survived its own ruin, I ascribed it a watchful eye, a lookout for everyone else. And I’m sure you are thinking, does he even know how he’s projecting his loneliness onto this house? We occupy things more, the more we need them. Anyway, spring came in that one hour like it always does. I spent days taking photos of flowers to exchange with unseen friends. The rule; you could not repeat that one yard full of purple lilies or spotted white foxglove, which meant going farther into the desolate streets of Queens, where I saw not even a hand disturb a curtain for hours, going from one color burst to the next; a misplaced observer beside clouds of bees who never wonder if they have a place among things, until I found what I avoided, and returned on each walk to view the ground zero of the pandemic, a block and a half from my building, outside the hospital; zero being without value. After I watched fourteen ambulances spin the street red, and a lone woman EMT driver in her cab raise an enormous sandwich and begin to cry, and after the first day the long white truck body appeared where the dead were stacked in makeshift bunk beds, anonymous to one another as children on a first night’s sleep over; we listened in our beds, up late with the insomniatic spring dark, to a far off siren growing louder, as the trees clutched their raindrops and the buildings leaned in, it came towards us, insistent as sunlight, or terrible as any kindness I could not accept, and I discovered a refrigerator on a sidewalk near the hospital, called a community fridge, with the phrase, “Take what you need, leave what you can,” for anyone hungry. I brought produce there from Kim who just bought the vegetable stand from the old Korean couple, and only asked how much do you need, and after Thursdays at 4:30 pm when I met Margarita, whose Spanish I could not speak, but requested some brand of coffee from Brazil, and Amy Chen whose Mandarin I don’t speak, who texted once, ”I’m pregnant,” meaning I need more food, and after Tatiana, whose head is as big as a large jack-o-lantern, with a smile of stubby brown teeth; once put her friend Linda on the phone, who said, “You remind her of her uncle in Russia,” and after she moved with her bags, she returned, and underneath the subway she handed me a bag with Creamed Herring and Kasha Varnishkes, with a treasure of Russian breads, every shade of brown, and with Google translate failing what we wanted the other to know, one typing, the other waiting, while the rumble of the 7 train passed above, and the sidewalks of people returned to life; I was not completely grateful for; we hugged, then twice, a long time, and I hung on tight to her and she to me, and I felt all this time pressed into us.