winter solstice

everything that made you
ends here.
the first sound
of your whole life
ebbs and dips
in a green line burned
across your last hope;
a stream of black bile
sighs at the quick of her mouth.
the anchor of your faith
has come undone
from the ankles bare
under the sheet,
your body’s mirror
a window onto backlight.
all the laying on of hands
becomes a gnashing of teeth,
your uncle’s hand
a flag to the alarms
a do not resuscitate,
the halt of padding feet.
how startled the last breath.
how surprising the relief.
afterthought of your arms
awake keeping your brother
from falling into dust;
here; hold him, hold him up;
as she held him—hold him;
though it's not enough,
hold him, in the chasm
of the last room
on the longest night,
her brother weeps
into the wall.

From Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2020). Copyright © 2020 R. Erica Doyle. Used by permission of the author.