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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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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Young Tomatoes

The sun had not crested the wall
I was sure you were sleeping
when I lifted the covers and
stepped out into the yard

In a world both quiet and warring
the air can feel tight, no? But
then I see what I’ve created
together with our Mother

I speak to them; we touch. With the
scent of tomatoes on my hands
how can I not feel at home
despite what today brings

(March 31, 2020)

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