Thanks in advance of indulging me in my self-indulgence. Today is the first anniversary of my brother's death and I wanted him to know that he is not forgotten. And yes, I like to believe that the dead can read. Don't you?
* * *
The Hand of God
Tim showed up just yesterday
and he was proud he had a pass--
He even called the attendants
and I had to tell them he was fine.
I would make sure
that he would check in by nine...
I was assured.
Brother Tim received his meds.
"But--" I heard him hesitate--
"Tim's been quite upset."
It seems his pastor had just died...
I did not bother to correct.
"Yes, I know." I simply said.
"His pastor was my brother."
No condolences were coming--
just make sure Tim got 'home' fine.
"Of course," I thought,
"why would I not?"
Nine was medication time.
I put the phone back on the wall
and told Tim "Have a seat."
Already crying big man tears
he smiled and took the captain's chair.
His voice broke emotion's peace
as he confessed to me:
"I have no other place to grieve."
I nodded and replied, "I know."
I made a pot of coffee then
and gave him the remote control.
I never know when big Tim shows--
how long he plans to hang around.
But after he escaped his keep
from the halfway house last week
I always checked with orderlies--
just to put their minds at ease.
"Let's just humor them" I said.
Tim nodded in conspiracy.
I smiled at Tim and said, "Look here."
I pulled a Bible from the shelf.
A special print of the King James,
the type was large and printed bold.
Then I searched his eyes and asked
as gently as our grief allowed.
"Do you remember this, my friend?"
He sobbed as I said,
"It's yours now..."
This Bible was a special gift
a promise of the heart from Tim.
He'd given this to his dear friend--
a quiet present for Christmas--
noticing my brother squint
when they'd discuss the gospel truth.
He never mentioned the large print--
the gift was wrapped in dignity
the silences of men will speak
so much more than words.
Then Tim keened an anguished howl
and held his forehead in his hand.
"There's no one left who knows The Word--
nobody who can understand..."
He wiped his eyes and cleared his throat
and told me that my brother died
saved by Jesus on the cross--
and said my brother had been kind...
I didn't say a word but smiled
sure now, Tim had lost his mind.
I remembered their debates--
punctuated by their fists
on my brother's kitchen table
red-faced, they were both convinced
the other was an idiot--
oh yeah, they spread The Word.
I know I always left assured
that all New Orleans had just heard--
but passion was their play.
Silently he held the book.
He rifled pages absently.
Then The Word fell passively
from his hands onto my floor
and opened as an augury
to the family page of Death.
In my brother's intense script
was my father's name.
the loyal son
penned in my own pain:
Keith D. Hood
it was so plain--
we knew we could not argue fact.
Tim and I
met with eyes.
Tim said to me,
"I should get back."
"There's this show I like to watch."
He handed me the Hand of God.
I took from him remote control
he muttered something about a pill
that seemed to give him happy dreams
and how tonight he'd swallow it
instead of tonguing it in cheek.
Then he looked at me and winked--
to watch "Smallville."
* * *
Just Beyond My Eye
felt bone of hand
as I paid for ferry's cross.
was no change made--
the price I paid became the cost.
I added tears
to River Styx--
I wished for powers of the Christ.
in a pained bliss
I invoked the cross:
I stood command
in posure that my word was so--
I said again
"Wake up, it's time to go."
say it's not so...
someone tell me that he breathes?
then I fell down to my knees
disbelief of miracle--
my pleas a faithless blasphemy--
I begged each god
"oh help us please"
commandment written in mere chalk...
I was blinded by my grief.
Lazarus, already freed--
stood there just beyond my eye--
so much more alive than I
I watched him grieve for me.
* * *
A Conversation with Keith
You don't know--
you just don't know--
how hard it was to leave..."
My brother emphasized with fist
pounding table-topped despair.
"You'll never know what it is like--"
He closed his eyes as if in sway.
I swept his bangs out of his eyes
and demons danced in memories--
"And you, don't know, my brother-love,
how hard it was to stay..."
* * *
The love didn't die, Keith. I miss our earnest conversations (and I think I'm the only one you didn't yell at during discussion, so thank you for that). I miss the phone calls from you during the evening news, asking me, in disbelief, "Are you watching this [expletive]?" I miss your guitar and the way your massive hands could pull gentle music out of the most unlikely of instruments. (You did have some "doozies".*chuckle*) I miss your face. I miss that feeling of protection whenever I was with you.
I miss you.
I don't miss your pain, however, and I'll take comfort in my belief that you're with Dad, and at peace, and finally, finally actualizing the free spirit that you always were in the flesh.
(and thanks to any who managed to read all of this)