on this coldest day of winter, but sea smoke
as if from thousands of campfires, the sea being warmer
than the frigid air, vapors steaming up, then blowing,
as the wind blows, capricious. My brother calls
after months of misses, some deliberate, and I slip
into an accent familiar as the chenille bathrobe
any of us might pull on, liking its pebbled softness.
I’m sorry you have to run away, he says to me.
But I’m not running away, just ashamed
after I hang up and slip back into the silk robe
of the language I’ve grown into. As a boy
he would flail his drums for hours in his attic
practice room. The passion he had, the whole house
vibrating to his rhythms, all that mattered.
All gone: a deacon, he reads from the gospels on Sundays,
that solemn feeling as he returns to his pew
while perfumed smoke swirls around the altar
and sifts through the church like fog.
Copyright 2015, Claire Keyes
Claire Keyes is the author of four books, including What Diamonds Can Do (Word Tech Communications, 2015) Her poems have appeared recently in Adanna, Crab Orchard Review and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts.