First To Know

He ached 39 years to be whole

 

I place a yellow rose on the coffin lid,

piecing him together in the back yard

during those days we all seemed the same,

 

the brother born deaf in one ear,

bad eyed, a leg too short,

no taller than a boy in middle age,

who lost his teeth fighting for respect,

 

in need of a new stomach and a new brain,

wanting only work and a wife and a child,

suffocating in his desire for them

 

I hear again his off key laugh

mocking those prankish genes

that tortured him to doubt

if he ever was to be more than he was,

teaching me despair is a lie

too easily spoken

 

I finally say aloud,”Go, little brother,”

and he who finished last at everything

skips to the front of the line,

free to savor his new perfection,

first to know what the dead know