On Speaking Quietly with My Brother

Jay Deshpande on

Published in Poem Of The Day

You who threw the rock at the back of my head
as hard as you could at four because you thought
this was how to make a stone skip on the ocean,
I have watched you in the dark of a yard
where we can only see each other by a lamp left on
some rooms away. We can see only
one another's chin. Soon, you will stay up
through the night after I fall
into a laughing sleep. Two moths dust
the same screen for remembered light.
We have all been removed from the lyrics, brother,
our names will be stricken from the papers.

When I think of you and me and recall some
adolescent sunrise, standing on rooftops,
blue still the island but the bowl of it about
to fill with light, it is perhaps strange and horrible
to know one day one of us will die
and the other will be alive, volume turned up,
his mouth now weighing twice as much.
We cannot be excused from this
device of road and harrow, from this weight
we heft and heave. So, you will be the sister.
And I will be the sister. And you-
you are about to give me my words.

About this poem
"For years I wanted to find language for the strange marriages of violence and tenderness encountered between brothers. At some point, thinking of the many transcendent moments I've shared with my own, it struck me that all of them are a preparation for death-which seems perfect to me. If, as Richard Wilbur and St. Augustine say, 'love calls us to the things of this world,' then maybe love also readies our way, by small injuries and great triumphs, to leave it."
-Jay Deshpande

About Jay Deshpande
Jay Deshpande is the author of "Love the Stranger" (YesYes Books, 2015). He writes for Slate and The New Republic, among other publications, and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.

(c) 2015 Jay Deshpande. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate




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