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.
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.
I wasn’t even there. You didn’t wait for me.
So many years later I’m angry still.