and yet

three poems by Linda Harris Dolan


perhaps we’re made for permanence.



time continues

though i have no tolerance for it.


on sunday the pastor said,

perhaps, after all, we’re not temporal beings.

if time was our natural habitat,

            shouldn’t we be used to it by now?


things you shouldn’t say to a child:

you’re growing like a weed.

i should put a brick on your head.




mostly i tried to convince him he wasn’t dying.


but at the mirror where he took his contacts out,

he said he’d lost six pounds that day.


i said, but dad, that’s just not healthy.

you can’t lose that much that quick.


he said, you can if it’s all salt.

all that fluid in my ankles.

they have to get that off.




the blue oxford short sleeve shirts.

the dress shoes with velcro

he had to wear the last few years—

old man shoes, and he knew it.


the pink and teal flannel shirt

i think i bought him when i was six

and if i’m right, exactly right, he wore it twenty years.


                        —well. i took that shirt.


my cousin sat by his grave.

my sister said, no:


            besides,   he’s not there.




sometimes i want to feel him gone.

there was a time when he was gone

and that was all there was.


i was a girl whose dad was dead.


before that:

a girl with a dad.



a girl.


it isn’t worse. it is worse.




if i could be in last december

in the midst of all that 2014-and-



i still wouldn’t know how to get out of bed,

and i would put on the softest sleep leggings

called whisper jersey cotton,

and i would think,

there is sensation.


sometimes only soft things

can hold in all your cells.


if i could be in last december

before dad was five-years dead,

before i was three-years sick,

before i smiled that day in yoga when they said, so

you can’t balance on one leg and straighten out the other—

            what’re you gonna do?

                                                            stop trying?






listen, i’m glad i don’t hurt that much anymore.

it’d be easy to build a home here.




back in 2013, i didn’t even know i wasn’t writing.


all i can say—

when they finally figured out

why i’d sit all day in a chair

not answering my texts,

not drinking, not peeing,


well. they rushed me down for bloodwork,

checked the kidneys, checked the liver,

and: no wonder you’re a zombie.

and: her heart rate is how low?

and: don’t, no don’t, no, we’ll never try that dose on you again.


i hadn’t missed my dad for months.

and when i missed him once again…




shouldn’t we

be used to it by now?








close your eyes and

there’s a flash

of light.

our retinas can find it.


i always say i need you,

and what i mean is i need someone

to fix it.


i can’t jump ahead.

can only, trace-like, be here,

try to become more solid.


retinas and light.

retinas and light.

retinas and hope.




and yet.


               there’s a bedroom      in virginia

where his feet might

         plod to the floor,

pause, wait.           and that

would be on the normal mornings.

there is no way, practically, to tell

how many mornings i woke

in the same house          as him.




eighteen years subtracting vacations,

subtracting his mornings away at the farm.

adding the summers back home from college.     


raw data        adds up       to nothing.

except what we already know: 


            the gray and white and brown of his hair;

            and how no one on earth

            has loved me            quite that way.




if all will be said,

what is left to say?


once. once.

and could i have saved him?


once. once.

and his arms were shaking.

shaking and the brown clumps

in the chest tube, and did i not

have google? could i not have googled?

was there google? and didn’t someone, couldn’t someone

have looked after us?—the fools and the children.



Linda Harris Dolan

Linda Harris Dolan is a poet, freelance editor, and professor. She holds an M.A. in English & American Literature from NYU, and an M.F.A in Poetry from NYU, where she was a Starworks Creative Writing Fellow. She’s former Poetry Editor of Washington Square Review and currently teaches at Rutgers University. She lives in Brooklyn and you can find her at