Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Drowning

The Drowning

By Alexis Orgera

He came home to us one afternoon,
came sopping wet and blue-lipped,
hugged the dog so hard
we couldn't pry them apart.
This is what my brother told us:

“When you die a port-wine stain lodges
behind your right eye like a migraine.
Your fingers are electric, lungs exploding stars.
And on the way down I saw Uncle Max floating by.”

Then my brother was quiet for an age
while we teetered on the living room couch
hoping he'd been given some special truth,
something to change us. When he spoke again,
my brother's eyes were buffed canaries.

“So when your body washes up,
it's on a beach with no shoreline.
Everyone's naked, saying, ‘Look how familiar this place is.’”
But my brother swore it resembled nothing.

He said, “Everyone just sits around with their eyes closed,
cross-legged, and they bask in grayness
while pieces of their bodies fall off•
First small parts. Toenails and earlobes.
Then hands and feet until all that's left is nubs

jabbing the sand. And there's music playing
high up on a black cliff of sky.
It's not like our music, “he said,

“but as if the whole world is a crying woman
who can't get out of whatever fix she's in.”

Then my brother fell asleep, arms around the dog.
And there we were, wondering while he slept
if my brother was a ghost or a superhero
or if he’s merely stumbled into some dumb luck
that would dote on him the rest of his life.

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