Praying Twice

Whenever someone says “Ben”
I think first of my older brother.
My mother might be bittersweetly
happy that he is alive in that way.

I know if I tell her this she will
respond with the story of
when they brought him home
from the hospital to die and
that he lasted for seven days.

She often tells stories more than once.
Sometimes I will interrupt to say
I have heard this one before
and sometimes I listen to words
whose endings I already know.

I listen about Ben,
thinking that it might be
helpful, that it might be like
praying the same prayer twice.

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Hibernate/Rest

What do I do
with an empty wind
when the air hangs still
and the birds have flown on
goodbyes are made hours earlier
and the clinging leaves of summer
aren’t what they were when summer began

and now the leaves no longer try to stay
the darkwater lake laps up cold, quiet
and when the air picks up again
it is no longer a warm breeze
but tattered and flailing
a chill blowing
through us

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Ten Years

I inherited his eyebrows
I got his jawline too, but
didn’t know it until long
after he was gone, when
one day Mom sent me a
photograph of their early
adventures; seeing him
also in his 30s, I thought
I am a girl version of him

To reach the point when
we can narrate our story
objectively, rather than
remember only to grieve

Ten years will do that

(adapted from an essay written February 19, 2018)

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In Time for Monday

A virus takes its time
to leave (so do people)

Instruction manual:

Take pills as needed
ease what can be eased
wake up each day
the same, suffering
until one night
having gone to bed
drawn up the covers
switched off the light
noticed it didn’t
feel as terrible
as the night before
slept on that thought
woke up less dull
made tea and eggs
by noon realized
all systems clear

(February 16, 2019)

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How I Am Faring

I had to count them, and in doing this realized
not one or two but several months had passed
enough in quantity that like corralled cattle
they seemed (in retrospect) so very close that
one loses count of the blur and only today
I thought about coming up on nine months

At times I have woken up bathed in loss but
I have also done what a woman who finds
herself alone for such lengths would do
which is to build a dam across a river
once rising so high it drowned the birds

Some days I am visited by butterflies but
find it best not to think of animals as signs
The only path is to accept this as-is in the
absence of hope; this mindset is workable
like a scratched but steady end table and
the blouse I wear despite its missing button

(Spring 2017)

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