On Speaking Quietly with My Brother

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.
 

More by Jay Deshpande

Actually Very Simple

He came back from halfway around the world like that,
tongue tied around him like a scarf. Everything set before him
set to bursting. The fear that what he’d seen—
what had been inside him—that one
clear note—now would slip away. He’d go back
to an electric life, stupid with administration.
How does one re-enter a calendar?
He was still in love with the yellow dirt seen at the hour
of the museum’s closing, two weeks before the Palio.
With the sound he almost certainly heard his blood make
as he ate the last bite of liver toast
and finished off his wine, at night, in a tower beside
a total field. Or the remarkable look
a girl had given the bushes at 3 a.m.
on a hill above the Aegean before she let him
pull her pool-soaked dress up above her thighs.
He was still in love with all the cataclysms in his flesh.
Even though none of that was real anymore.
And it was his human duty to go onward, forget it all,
get caught back up in the cloud of the thing.
The next morning he woke up, fully home,
ignorant as ever, just perhaps a light along the edge
of responsibility, the tasks that called him by a name.
As if their stress and weight existed only didn’t.
A brief glimpse, and then that part of what’s just in the mind
scampering back into undergrowth. (They called it capriola,
which was perfect.) And then—drawing himself out of bed
and lacing up his shoes. Getting out and running among
buildings, the stacked reds and blues of Brooklyn. Gaping
at the faces of his neighbors, or the way a leaf hangs,
or a swatch of pavement wet between parked cars.
Huffing widely at it, and running a little slower.
Gathering it all up into his mouth.