Crows caw unseen in the sticks of woods, songbirds gone south,
my Saint Anthony statue glows in the dark so I can find him
and somewhere in the broken day of London my sister
fastens her mouth on coffee on a break from management
at the children’s hospital, tosses her tuna-mayo
to doves in the stone park. Trout fattened on our brother’s
ashes in a small lake in the Poconos blow their clear-
streamed cantus firmus* through the waters, the gills’
respiratory surface a layer one cell thick.
Unsure of a precise destination, a walker stops to ask directions
to the city center. A black cab speeds toward Admissions.
My sister’s limbs coordinate, to point in the direction
the man came from. Not by that estuary but near a river’s
source, I live in a town of frank and friendly talk
where no one knew my brother. The planet effervesces
us; few live where we were born. Amid the northern quiet
of an inland stateside college town before the students
wake, I see children playing what we’d be when we grew up.
Blue-eyed and red-tempered, Tommy said a firetruck.
He was four or five, the decade Dick and Jane. Fireman
his siblings yelled, fireman. So he said he’d be a statue.
This poem first appeared in Stand magazine (2006), University of Leeds
Mary Gilliland172 Pearsall Place, Ithaca, NY 14850
Volume IX Number 3
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