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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 11: January 2022
Poem: 265 words
By Dion O’Reilly

In Bellingham

I lived in a shanty on a ridge, one window 
	facing the Salish Sea, the other, 
a stand of cedars, their scaly leaves, 
	a ceaseless ticking on my roof. 
I slept next to a black stove, stacked it 
	till the walls dried, and my spine felt the ache 
fall away. I’d charmed a man to let me 
	live there. He fished in Alaska May 
to November, placed the keys in my hand 
	like a velvet bag of diamonds. 
He was in love with me, but I didn’t want him. 
	He hustled mushrooms and hung drywall, 
never learned to read or write, 
	but could fix anything, 
stooped over the motor of his Model A, 
	his bare back, muscled and pelted, 
fingers light on the implements, 
	as he murmured, Rich to the right. Lean to the left. 
At the time, I was in love with a Seattle man 
	who designed high-rise towers made of glass. 
I’d moved north to escape the sight of him 
	with his red-haired girlfriend, 
her sun-flecked skin and slender arms. 
	Every night, I walked the dirt road to the cabin 
after reading Borges all day at the college 
	or pulling rich streams of espresso 
at a downtown café. 
	I hiked home slow up Sehome hill, 
my body hot inside the steamy wool, 
	the double-coated nylon of my coat. 
When I got home, the cabin was cold, 
	quiet. I’d bank the fire, fall asleep 
thinking about those two men—
	one who dropped me off for good 
on a dark street. The other, wordless, 
	his eyes stitched with light. 


Dion O’Reilly’s
Issue 11, January 2022

debut book, Ghost Dogs (Terrapin 2020), was shortlisted for several prizes including The Catamaran Prize and The Eric Hoffer Award. Her work appears in The Sun, Rattle, Cincinnati Review, Narrative, New Letters, American Journal of Poetry, and The New Ohio Review. She is a member of The Hive Poetry Collective, which produces podcasts, radio shows, and events, and she leads private workshops with small groups of poets from all over the United States and Canada.

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