A few black branches and wished-for ghosts
murmur in the clouds.
Adorno said that writing becomes a place to live. You crawl in,
pull each letter closer. One hides your face from the sun.
The curves become mother and father, the sharp slash of the t,
the angles of the k, sister and brother. Sometimes they speak,
sometimes they do not. The glottals are soft to the touch,
they do not insist on their sounds. You live
under the shadow of reaching branches
and the longed-for ghosts whisper, not so far away.
What I Know about the Night Sky
The new moon is never visible
on the night of the New Moon.
When the sky is darkest
you sometimes see fireballs flash,
and through the night
newly-bare branches reach towards the sky
while my brother has electric shock therapy,
convulsions he won’t remember. They cut
some connections in the brain,
the ones that fine-tune grief.
While I pace, I look for Andromeda,
so many light years away that the light
I see tonight was emitted
when woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers
roamed here. The next day my brother
reaches out to me from the darkness
he’s wrapped in. He tests the light.
Deborah Brown is coeditor of Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics and co-translator of Last Voyage: Selected Poems of Giovanni Pascoli. Walking the Dog’s Shadow won the A. J. Poulin Jr. Award from BOA Editions and later won the New Hampshire Literary Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry.