Matthew Dickman
Thicket & Child


In the middle

of spring, in the center

of the thicket

a family of finches


are making a slog

of dinner, worms

that, pulled out

of the ground


become something

like an elegiac

witness to hunger,

the birds’ hunger,


the thicket’s starvation,

the yellowed grass’s

thirst. Or not.

I suppose I’m feeling


all powerful again,

like last night,

when I watched

a family of raccoons


walk through

the shelter of the thicket

and then into the dark

yard with just a clip


of moonlight

like a half-secret

on the furry tips

of their ears


and said to no-one:

Look at that!

An index of death

is arriving too late


for love! I’m a goon.

I cannot reckon

my own life

so I make up lies


about another life—

finch life, raccoon life,

my sister’s, mother’s

brother’s life.


I can’t believe

I’m allowed to drive

a car but also want

to be held like a baby


again. I can’t believe

I’m supposed to be

a father but also

everyone’s son.


In the center

of my mind, in the center

of that thicket,

the art of death


is hung on the walls.

I walk through it

with a glass of white wine

in one hand


and a small plate

of cheese in the other,

staring at the paintings

I’ve made, saying


oh I like that

or what the hell is that,

a child could

have painted that.


Found In Volume 53, No. 03
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  • Matthew Dickman
Matthew Dickman
About the Author

Matthew Dickman is the author of Mayakovsky’s Revolver (2012); Wonderland (2017), Husbandry (2022); and All-American Poem (2008), the recipient of The Honickman First Book Prize, The May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Kate Tufts Award.