The National Catholic Review

The first time I entered his empty room
I stood in the silence

of the hospital bed, his white cup
still on the tray, remembering the day

I found him, my older brother,
in the front room on Canal Street,

his back to me, writing
with his finger on the air,

unaware I was watching him move
from left to right down an invisible page,

pausing, striking out a line, revising,
until he turned and asked me what

was I staring at, was I catching flies
with my open mouth, then rushing

past me into his hidden life, leaving
me in that quiet room, dust

rising through slanted light, all those words
hanging heavily in the air.

Paul Martin is author of three poetry collections: Green Tomatoes, Walking Away Waving and Morning on Canal Street. He was awarded two poetry fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.

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