by Macaulay Glynn
After my mother died, 
I cared for my younger brother
for weeks,
did laundry, rode my bicycle 
to the supermarket, 
used gift certificates
the neighborhood had given us
at the funeral
to buy detergent
and dinner.
It was April, and I
dressed my brother,
made sure he bathed
and we walked to the school bus together
like we did every morning
before the accident.
At night, I slept in my mother’s bed.
Although I heard the bird crying
I never went into the office
to feed him.
When he died, I wrapped him
in a plastic bag
and placed him
at the bottom of the burn barrel
where my mother would burn the leaves
we raked from the yard
every fall. I remember those nights
in October, the embers would float up
and my brother and I, 
on the old swing set,
would try to catch
the ashes
in our hands.