all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

empty
for my brother


























I can imagine your hands, tight against the bathroom walls,
water hammering the sink.
Maybe this is the only place you allow yourself the luxury
of desperation.
Then, inevitably, you leave the door behind,
and each hour piles up like a sword pointing at your gut.
Like the Gladiator you are,
you try to keep up with the carnage.

Last week, we sat on the couch in your living room
and I could feel how tired you were,
something in you heavy and flagging,
but still you stretched your lanky arms around my back
until they gathered me in full, and you were 10 again,
or I was, and I forgot what the story was.

And yet, the narrative insists on telling itself,
and days later it was this embrace that I forgot.
You were careening through so many cracks,
it would have been an act of military precision
not to fall.

Of course, by now, you are only trying to outrace
yourself.

Brother, if I could do anything,
I would take you to the Sierra road I saw this morning,
show you how after so many hours of snowfall,
everything had disappeared – the 18-wheelers’ chain marks,
the tracks of the highway patrol cars barring the smaller exits,
even (I suppose) the carcasses of winter creatures
darting across for home.

All of it empty, wiped clean of noise and mud and ruin,
with nothing but the invitation to come closer.
Even if what would come was pain or heartache or failure,
nevertheless a road, hushed, laid bare,
waiting for you to take it.

5 comments:

veronica said...

So beautiful. Made my heart ache and my throat tight. Thank you.

Beth P. said...

and still...it is the road less taken.

thank you for this, Maya.
May you and your brother find peace.

Nancy said...

What a beautiful expression of loving, painful feelings for your brother. May he know a peaceful, snow-covered transition.

rentschler said...

Oh my god. This just closed my throat and made me ache.

Another gem. Thank you.
~Sherry
(Oh and I put a link to your site on mine - people just have to come here and read you)

Jaime said...

Maya, you are an incredible writer.

Your words are thought provoking and so eloquently envelope what it is to be human.