Houghton Mifflin Company
For My Brother Who Died before I Was Born
Pearly and opaque boy, it was you
To whom as a god
I furtively prayed before
I launched an aggie
Or played a decisive card.
I made lists of the reasons why:
Certain teachers and times of the year
And the failure of my team
To score runners from third—
Those were all things to make you die.
I meant to discover
My own mortality.
I mocked my mocking breath
And deftly smoked
Too many cigarettes.
At night I heard footsteps, high-pitched
Voices. Once I saw a face in a candle flame.
Your absence was a game
Which might at any move
Intrude upon my wanting life.
My hand fit in your old ball glove.
My dream was real:
Imagination is the proof of love.