In the grip of a nor’easter,
you come bearing grief,
have in pieces not come
in peace. You arrive bladed
with certainty. You slam shut
the car door and smolder
before the locked cabin, rough
trip up the Hudson as you distracted
yourself with a list of flowers awaiting
deft penmanship to groom them
tight and blow them clean.
News of your brother’s death
intercepted your drive to this
residency, fellowship
among the crude Madonnas
of empty mailboxes draped in robes
of days-old ice. You have not written
about the passing of family
before, their antagonistic absences.
Intrusive their teething
tombstones in the brain. Pill
after pill to sleep, to create,
to erase, you swallow and scratch
into a notepad what the frozen earth
refuses: bougainvillea, lilac, burning
bush. Another close kin added
to the Bible’s kept obituaries.
You hated your brother’s left
eye, unruly wanderer settling
away from you and observing
a world you could not sense. Glossy ivy
in all its tenure, the tender fingers
of buckeye. The white page
frozen before you like rime. You
dig and discover what you already knew:
decaying kin, meandering roots
catching his beautiful ankles. You
were looking for a way out through
beauty but beauty only goes
where needed. On the pad you write: enough
what you’ve had, how much
more of you there is, how
much of you will be left when you’re gone.