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Poetry

Two nights before what would have been
his fiftieth birthday, I dreamed my brother,
dead almost three years, came back
for our grandmother’s funeral.

Of all of us grandchildren,
he was the best about visiting her.
She hadn’t died, but that didn’t stop me
from thinking this should be allowed,

the dead should be able to come back
briefly, on important occasions
like a relative’s funeral—
when we need them most.

It makes so much sense I wonder why
it wasn’t part of the plan from the beginning—
just some visitation rights
with very strict rules, if that’s what it takes.

I know, the dream was a visitation,
but I hardly remember the dream.
We were in the same room together,
talking as we had in life,

but I don’t remember what we said.
And I didn’t get to ask him why
he’d killed himself, or tell him
that our grandmother had never known,

saved by her dementia. And then it was over,
darkened, unrecoverable. I want
something more. One or two waking visions—
that’s all I’m really asking for.


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

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