I don't know if it's a coldness
or just how the body, overloaded,
tends to shut down,
but as my brother neared death
I felt nothing that resembled grief.
Our unfinished business
finished long ago, our love
for each other spoken and real,
there wasn't much more to say
but goodbye, and one morning
we said it–a small moment–
and one of us cried.
From then on he was delusional,
the cancer making him
stupid, insistently so, and lost.
I wanted him to die.
And I wished his wife
would say A shame
instead of God's will. Or if God
had such a will, Shame on Him.
Days later, at the viewing,
again I wanted to feel something,
but for whom? That powdered stranger
lying there, that nobody I knew?
I was far away, parsing grief,
turning it over in my mind.
He was simply gone, a dead thing,
anybody's sack of bones.
Only when his son spoke,
measuring with precise, slow-
to-arrive language the father
he had lost, did something in me move.
There was my brother restored,
abstracted, made of words now.