The Brother


Dropping a canape in my beaujolais
At some reception, opening or launch,
I recall briefly the brother I never had
Presiding at less worldly rituals:
The only man at my wedding not wearing a tie;
Avuncular, swaddling my nephew over the font;
Thumbing cool oil on our mother’s forehead
In the darkened room, the bells and frankincense…
While the prodigal sweats in the strip lit corridor.

Now, picture us facing each other, myself and the brother
I never met: two profiles in silhouette,
Or else a chalice, depending how you look.
Imagine that’s this polystyrene cup.
I must break bread with my own flesh and blood.

from Dances Learned Last Night (Picador, 2000), copyright © Michael Donaghy 2000, used by permission of the author and Macmillan Publishers.

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