I didn’t know my brother could die
in the middle of our fight.
The diagnosis one more barb
perfectly fashioned to wound.
As I sat by his hospital bed, we tried to reclaim
those long Cambridge years
when we were learning to wash our own laundry,
books strewn on the beds.
How he taught me to wait for the boy
to unlock the car door, then swing both legs in together,
how to play pinball,
how to make tuna on rye.
The fight simmered, a stock pot
pushed to the back of the stove,
while we waited for him to get better.
Even when his legs began to hold fluids,
and the nurses shook their heads,
I was waiting for the last minute reversal.
I didn’t understand then how death
cuts off the discussion
whenever it pleases,
whether you’re finished or not.