Your brother in the river,
divers searched for hours,
you’d never met his wife, but here she is,
weeping, pressed up against you,
and now you know;
she’s what you smelled on him
the last time you saw him,
the coffee shop by the bridge;
he wasn’t hungry.
He said, she sobs, you were the best
sister he ever could have had,
you pour more tea;
You shouldn’t be alone, you say,
you take her home, make up the couch,
I’ll be right here.
Your brother settles into the mud,
he joins the bones that have lain there
since prom night, 1962:
the sky so clear,
her date’s arms so strong,
she sank in her dress of roses,
into the soft soft mud 30 feet below.
her bony arms encircle your brother’s neck,
I’m all alone, she says, and I’m so afraid.
I’ll protect you, he says;
they dance cheek to cheek
in the cold wet dark.
You start awake, a warm body
trembling against you:
I had a nightmare, she wails,
and you comfort her.
In her dream,
your brother had taken a lover,
a young girl with milk-white skin,
he’d abandoned his wife,
was lying with his new girl,
didn’t even remember
the woman he’d promised himself to,
only a dream, you say,
feeling her heart pounding in her chest,
her sweet breath on your cheek,
he’d never do you like that,
and scoot over to give her room.