“How Many Times” by Marie Howe
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
How Many Times
No matter how many times I try I can't stop my father from walking into my sister's room and I can't see any better, leaning from here to look in his eyes. It's dark in the hall and everyone's sleeping. This is the past where everything is perfect already and nothing changes, where the water glass falls to the bathroom floor and bounces once before breaking. Nothing. Not the small sound my sister makes, turning over, not the thump of the dog's tail when he opens one eye to see him stumbling back to bed still drunk, a little bewildered. This is exactly as I knew it would be. And if I whisper her name, hissing a warning, I've been doing that for years now, and still the dog startles and growls until he sees it's our father, and still the door opens, and she makes that small oh turning over.
from The Good Thief, 1988
Persea Books, New York, NY
Copyright 1988 by Marie Howe.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. from The Good Thief. Copyright 1988 by Marie Howe. For further permissions information, contact W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110.
About the Poet
Marie Howe (1950- ) is the author of three poetry collections, including The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems (W. W. Norton, 2008). Howe has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia, and NYU.
Learn more about Marie Howe at The Poetry Foundation.