I suppose you want thanks now,
for the fact the truck
didn’t crush my head,
just the knee. Or you want
thanks that I’m walking again.
I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a nod
for the Carolina rains, the screws
in my leg, the way my heart stops
at an engine’s backfire, at shouts
of children on the beach.
I’ll tell you what. Let me stare
out of the window of my old cabin
and walk without crutches
through the overgrown grass.
Let me stop dreaming of headlights
and hurtling through the air,
the broken windshield,
the blood on the asphalt,
the puddles that were mine
and the ones that weren’t.
Let me go back to Kamakura
to watch the trains ramble,
the leaves fall, and burn
my tongue on hot fried squid
under the Buddha on the hilltop.
When I get home, I swear, I’ll lie
naked with tears on my cheeks,
the blankets flung from the bed.
I will whisper to the faded vinyl
stars spread across my ceiling — thanks
for all of it, for not dying this time
before I wake. But mostly, I want
to thank you for the slow rivers
that look like my mother’s skin,
and how my sister shuts her eyes
when she laughs.
— Kevin Dougherty
Kevin Dougherty grew up in Mt. Lebanon and is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches undergraduate composition. His work has or soon will be published in Jet Fuel Review, The Allegheny Review and Prairie Margins.