The queen grows fat beneath my house
while drones infest the walls
reconnaissance to feed her glut,
wood ripped from studs and joists.
Iíll pay to drill the slab and ruin
her pestilential nest. How to find
the song in this dayís summons?
Iíve been accused of darkness
by my inner light. My brother sits
in the chemo chair another long day
of toxic infusion, the house of his body—
bones, brain and balls gone skeltering.
I sit in my parked car listening
to Robert Plant recall how the English
envied the Americans for getting
the blues, getting all of it, into song.
I remember the dream where
brother and sister, adult and equal,
lean and white as lilies, as bare,
dove into a mountain lake, black water,
high elevation, fir trees growing
in flood water that had joined
two lakes into one. Do you ever dream
of animals, I ask him, hospice bed
looking out on a plywood squirrel
perched on cement block wall.
Frequently. A lilt of surprising joy. What kind?
Mostly the jungle animals. Then: Iím going
to do my exercises now. What exercises?
I like pacing, he said, immobilized
upon his death nest of nine pillows.
Then he closed his eyes to become the inward one
whose only work was to wear a pathway
back and forth within his enclosure.
|About this poem:|
"I can't seem to stop carrying my brother around on my back since he died in May 2011. I think of the way Aeneas carried his father Anchises out of defeat, but the stuff of my days is all here on the horizontal plane: termites, cancer, Led Zeppelin, and my devotion to the animal world. These all fell together one day into this poem."
—Alison Hawthorne Deming