Read "My Best Friend Once" by Rebecca Dosch-Brown, selected for the 2010 cycle of mnLIT's What Light Poetry Project by acclaimed poet Sun Yung Shin (SKIRT FULL OF BLACK).
April 6, 2011

Photo courtesy of the author

My Best Friend Once

Sitting across from me, said "I'm sorry."

It fizzled out like a feeble attempt at a door

bell. She hoped no one was home to hear.

True, I was crying at the gingerbread house

her father bought for her. It was uncomfortable.

My son burrowed his head near me,

under velvet beige sofa cushions, away

from the claws and sharp toys of her boys.


It's not easy, I suppose, to be near my life at times:

its cracked windshield, one bedroom rental,

a son diagnosed as different, and my heart

more sparrow than hawk. We defy, we dismantle,

the stage set for the American Dream. And we left

her house as fast as we could. She asked for

our phone number, but I knew the garbage can

opened its mouth, hungry, though already full and fat.


Watch out for your average boys, friend. They grow

huge from vampire blood and bite at what's unlike

them with bright white werewolf teeth.  


Against the back of the driver's seat

my son kicks his feet to his own beat, singing,

'Row, row, row your boat gently down

the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.

Life's a budding dream.'


He gets the song a little wrong,

but it sounds all right to me. He will break

every rule out there, kick by kick. I drive

the long way home, unwinding my fear

and sadness and anger along a crooked road

that traces the path of a sparkling brown river.

The river somehow survives its daily poisoning,

somehow manages without malice to give in return

a strange new happiness very far from normal.


About Dosch-Brown's entry, juror Sun Yung Shin writes: "I have chosen My Best Friend Once [for this cycle of What Light] because its emotion seems genuine without being sentimental or flashy. There's an interesting mix of dramatization and metaphor that gives the poem depth and alludes to a consciousness in struggle."


About the poet: Rebecca Dosch-Brown lives in media res in Northeast Minneapolis with her husband, an electronic composer, and their bright son, whose name means 'sun' in Japanese. She has paid bills as a writer-in-residence, a gardener, a translator, and served as a bonsai and tile-making apprentice, but now suffers quietly in a full-time job, so that she can write at night. Her random thoughts can be found at

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