A Poem About My Brother
If you didn’t know, I can tell you
That enough medicine doesn’t exist
for a parent to hear you don’t want
To see the body. The baby’s sick. I put
A tablet on her tongue and hope it helps.
If she could only get some sleep tonight…
How I’ve counted down the days I’ve been alive,
The days to weekends, to vacations,
Until the baby sleeps entire nights.
Perhaps, she’ll sleep. I hope to sleep.
My parents left me with my sister that night,
That time they followed doctors to a room
To identify my brother’s body.
My baby’s fists escape and hit her face.
I never seem to wrap her well enough.
It’s strange. My brother looked so restful despite
The accident. The paper took a photo—
His body in the car. His body
is what we say when someone’s died, as though
the name leaves first before the breath.
The paper placed him on page one. Who knows
Who looked? Was it my mother, my father, or both?
I only know it seems my parents slept
Forever. Once, I met a girl who said
She saw my brother an hour before his death.
I told my mother. There’s no word for it—
How knowing her can mean a thing to me.
Morning in Phuket
for R.G. and J.G.
All night long I heard the singing, I’d wake, listen, and the music would disappear. I’d sleep and hear the song so faint I could not make out words, yet those people, those people singing were celebrating. All I wanted was a man with opinions. One brought me the thorniest weed he could find. I laughed. One recited Schrodinger's equation until my eyes glazed, until I kissed him to shut him up. I wanted to get back to sleep and to a boat in Phuket in January when a man I hated left me on a dock and pulled away in a boat. I walked until I saw people. They spoke, and I could not understand. But a woman kept pointing. I followed her. I did not think what if she kills me. I did not care if she killed me. She smiled. She pointed. She did not kill me. I’d been stranded, and I did not want to know where I had been. I could have hated the world, but I didn’t. I could have given up, but I didn’t. I followed the woman. I cradled my silent miseries and left them to drink what they could find. The woman and I, we passed around a hill. The woman and I, we understood each other despite no common language. She brought me to a shrine. Later, I looked on a map and couldn’t find it. Reader, do not tell me to write of flowers. Do not tell me to write only of love. If you tell me to write of the rose, I will point out its biggest thorn. I don’t know why I followed that woman. I don’t know why she asked me to follow. I had no money in my pocket. I picked a flower, the only I could find, and hoped it meant something when I passed it on.