Your last memory of family

D.S. Waldman

is your first memory

of violence. Like a field

split by a river,

                        a river narrowed

to a seam, there is a you

who is not you, but your brother;

                        and there’s you,

who is the I watching

                        the shadow

of rain bulge overhead, feeling


                        in its falling —

which is to say,

                        your brother

is behind you and, behind him,

your father: three oars,

                        out of rhythm,

in and through the darkening,

the agitated water

agitated by water falling


pelting the unseen surface

of a river called


          — near strike of lightning —

rain falling hard, like only what it is:

                                  a sky’s refuse.

A sky saying yes to we’re going

to die out here.

A voice that is not yours.   An oar

                                  out of water.

          A sound, then. A sound you, not

for want of trying, cannot unhear. Sharp

          and hollow, the body letting go its fear

and, in its place, ushering in a new

          and crumpled epoch,

a permanent sadness

          that is not sad

so much as


          The body, folded, of a boy

who is not you, crying

no longer. The oar,

your father slips back into

          November water. A stroke,

then two. The only sound: a long shatter

          of rain

                              on river,

which sounds very much, now,

          like silence.


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