To Anthony

I have been revising this poem for years. I wrote the first version about a year after he died. I keep coming back to it.
My brother was my best friend from childhood, even though he was 10 years older than I. He was a good listener, a good mentor and adviser.

We called all our siblings by their full name because my mother did not like nicknames. So he was always “Anthony.” He died more than 15 years ago, but I still feel his loss. Writing this now with tears in my eyes, I am reminded that one never “gets over” grief. We just learn to live with it.

I probably should have waited to post this. It’s not a Saturday kind of poem, but believe it or not, I dreamed of him last night.

Anthony

 

I remember we talked about everything:

religion, sex, the Boston Red Sox

and made extravagant promises.

 

I remember we listened to music:

Buddy Holly, Beethoven, and the Everly Brothers.

 

We picked huckleberries and sold them for 25 cents a quart

and used the money for the movies:

Quo Vadis, With a Song in My Heart, and every Gene Autry movie.

 

I remember you taught me how to whistle, skip rocks, and swing a bat.

You taught me to stand up for myself and to be true to who I am.

 

You left home first

for the army

and then to get married and start a family of your own.

 

I remember we talked every Sunday on the phone

when long distance calls cost real money.

The conversation when you told me about the cancer

began our long goodbye.

 

You died on Valentine’s Day.

Inconsiderate.

I wasn’t even there. You didn’t wait for me.

 

So many years later I’m angry still.

 

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23 thoughts on “To Anthony

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss and empathize with your realization that grief has no end. Your poem, with its specific details, is a moving tribute to the love you shared with your brother. I think that loss reshapes the bedrock of our world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Raw, true, real and vulnerable – I think it is a perfect Saturday poem. He taught you:
    You taught me to stand up for myself and to be true to who I am. And today you honored him be being you and sharing your poem. Thank you – grief is not something we get over — I completely agree.
    Clare

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Barbara, you had me in tears even before I read your poem. I could hear you listening to the music, picking the huckleberries, and skipping the rocks-what wonderful memories. I’m glad you saved this poem for so many years. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Oh, Diane, did this make me cry…
    I understand every line of it, the dream that was the impetus for you to write what may not seem to be a Saturday idea, but became it because this is what surfaced for you. This may not be ‘finished’ in your eyes, but it is good enough to draw emotional responses to it.
    Grief is the wind. It blows in slowly, blows out forcefully, blows gently, stands relatively still, only to be at category 5 when you least expect it. Grief knows no time. Thank you for a very moving post.

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  5. A wonderful poem using a simple scaffold. I think a perfect poem for any day, really. Hard to lose someone close to us. There will be grief, but how wonderful to share memories like this, to say our loved one’s name, and to even smile or chickle or laugh out loud at the good times. And then it is as if that person is still here with us, if just for a little while.

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  6. They say good writing should make you feel. As I read your poem my eyes filled with tears. Thank you for making me feel with your writing, Diane. I love your poetry.

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  7. The specific details in the poem- the Red Sox, the Everly brothers, the huckleberries– are what really drive this home for me.

    When I read your poem, I think of Ralph Fletcher’s quote, in his first children’s novel, FIG PUDDING,

    “When someone you love dies, you get a big bowl of sadness put down in front of you, steaming hot. You can start eating now, or you can let it cool and eat it bit by bit later one. Either way, you end up eating the whole thing. There’s really no way around it.”

    ― Ralph Fletcher, Fig Pudding

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