Skip to content

Log Out



——–—The first line from my mom’s prayer book,
——–—12-23-88, shortly after her sister was killed

Are you still painting, all the blue
gone silent? Does the old man
speak to you like he won’t for me?

No matter, not our father, it’s your voice
I want to hear like water off the cool tip
of a finger. Remember the helicopter ride

above the forest in Pakistan? For weeks
we thought we’d finally see
as birds did. And yet,

what was it? We still saw them gliding
below, beside, above, and we knew
we were not like them. I fear,

please tell me I’m wrong, that it’s like that
up there with those angels. I guess being
a bird is about more than just wings,

you said. Nerdofile—who else can I call
that, or can call me that—we shared such strange
emotions: the disappointment of a helicopter,

the mute blue of a father.
I guess having a sister is about
more than just a body. What are you

doing dead? A helicopter, like a bird,
is about the air, the way a spoon is about a bowl
and a mouth, the way a lock is a story

about a key—but also what’s behind it.
Your door was locked, and you were what was hidden,
and she and a knife are what found you.

A knife is about revealing, releasing,
cutting to the heart of the matter.
The heart of the matter is this: Caroline,

I feel our lives are not about us at all. They lie
silent and straight these days like chapel pews.
They still in stark light like stained glass.

My newborn boy left me, bloodless as a stone.
And when he finally breathed he was no longer blue.
Nerdofile, the doctors say his heart might work

just fine. Don’t wait for him. I have never been
so alive—but what are you doing
dead? Do you and those angels repeat our names

until we return like an encore? Can you paint him
up there, happy like those birds you scattered
about an imaginary Pakistani castle:

white, black, and a small blue shrinking into distance?
An old dream, you said—revived years after—of flying
more real than the flight itself.



Caleb Braun earned an MFA from the University of Washington and is a PhD student at Texas Tech. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Gettysburg Review, 32 Poems, Blackbird, Cherry Tree, and elsewhere. He can be found online at




Image depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

+ Click here to make a donation.

+ Click here to subscribe to Image.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Receive ImageUpdate, our free weekly newsletter featuring the best from Image and the world of arts & faith

* indicates required