Veronica Patterson


The night you lay dying,

there was a space around the house

into which nothing untoward could come,

in which nothing but your dying could take place.

It was a hole in the field,

like the hush into which a child is born. As if 

at all times, or whenever necessary,

shafts of quiet pierce the world – we don’t know 

the ways of the soul.


But we know how artists make a map 

of somewhere foreign, then telescope one spot forward,

to show details. You lay on the bed, 

breathing hard. A lens of lamplight. Your husband 

on one side of you, I on the other. We told small, round stories, 

beads on a string we passed over you.  As if 

that were our job, while yours was counting 

out your breaths to the last.


When I left, I took the waiting

with me. But it wasn’t waiting; there was no time in it.

I woke before dawn, with these words,

“Why do you seek the dead among the living?” The call came,

like news of someone arrived safely in another country.

I am always surprised that the word threshold

hinges on just one h. Each time, I write one for thresh

and one for hold.


New Letters

From Thresh & Hold

© Copyright Veronica Patterson 2018. All Rights Reserved