Jan/Feb 2008 Poetry

Two Poems

by Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren

Photo by Steve Wing

Sitting Shiva for my Brother

Her lithe body armed
with a red trench coat, my grandmother passed
through the mourners
like a drop of blood.

I watched one man grip onto
her sleeve, anxious to offer his
condolences. She responded
graciously; the words

came out slow & controlled
as a morphine drip. Her gaze
steady, eyes dry—I was certain

she could stare into the mirror
and not know what her reflection
was thinking.



Before me, the balloon
of my brother's body inflates, deflates.
We stand around him quietly,
as though he were a newborn
just put down to rest.

I can hear other families' voices
through the walls—their bouts
of shadow laughter, the introspective
silences that follow.

The corridor of an I.C.U.
is a wishing well:
everyone prays,
expecting nothing.


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