“Six Reasons I Can’t Answer the Door for You at Three in the Morning” by Sarah Carson

Sarah Carson


The last man here had a habit of taking what cannot be taken:
my girl, he’d say, my baby. He narrowed his eyes—

mice scattered in the walls.
The man before him hid cans

in high cabinets. A downstairs neighbor
slipped notes beneath the doorway—

Just yell help, they said.
Police respond quickly in this part of town.

Then there’s Brother who doesn’t come home at Christmas.
The girl he swears he doesn’t know

in my same sweatshirt—hers stained with
creekwater, buckshot, blood.

In the city where I was born, bullets crawl up
blocks like brush fire, spent casings end up in the water—

children’s veins grow heavy, and during dinner,
police come to our doors looking for men

who know all of us by name.
Now—tucked between my hip bone and my ribcage—

I’m growing another body.
The lady who does the ultrasounds says

it’ll be a girl like me.
I’m trying to teach her there are men

who sleep at three in the morning
and men who can’t,

but that a door is something that opens—
I’m trying to teach her that even a deadbolt

is still a kind of hope.

from Rattle #57, Fall 2017
Tribute to Rust Belt Poets


Sarah Carson: “I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, in a family of autoworkers. I moved away to Chicago after college and have since struggled to reconcile my identity as a daughter of the Rust Belt with my new life in the urban middle class. As I look forward to having a daughter of my own, this poem wrestles with that identity—and what it will mean for her to be the first generation removed from post-industrial life in the Midwest.” (website)

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