Issue 27 | Winter 2021

As If There Were Lessons

Those were the hours, infected, 

we were aware of her body, the fever 


wringing out the cloth of her, the sheets

a witness. This was a skirmish 


in a war of attrition—win the day, 

ignore the lost cause. Is this the lesson? 


When I was five, I’d sit on the curb 

with a paperclip hook on a string 


to fish the storm drain. What is empathy

if not a found treasure? After illness, 


sun. That’s what I mean: the lesson 

a tchotchke. And her body, 


a bird from the nest, as if falling

is what’s meant by all this time.

Filed under: Poetry

David O’Connell’s work has appeared in New Ohio Review, The Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, Sugar House, and North American Review, among other journals. His first full-length collection, Our Best Defense, is forthcoming in 2021 from Červená Barva Press. More of his work can be found at