Monday, April 18, 2016

"On Speaking Quietly with My Brother" by Jay Deshpande

In honor of National Poetry Month, I am presenting special works by selected poets each Monday in April (previously here and here). Today we have an achingly evocative poem by Jay Deshpande.

On Speaking Quietly with My Brother
by Jay Deshpande

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.

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