With My Brother This Morning
Earthworms—the long ruddy tubes we used
to collect for fishing—have entered the pool
this wet winter, a new phenomena,
and they bring you to mind, not that you ever
truly leave. They sway, bleached white and looking
like all the broken, bedraggled shoelaces
we discarded in yard or bedroom or playground,
leaving our shoes loose with dirty flapping tongues.
Dozens rest at the bottom of the deep end among
the gathered oak leaves, the ones with hook-sharp leaf points,
everything shifting in the invisible currents
the filter stirs. The white worms wave eerie
greetings from their watery afterlife, kingdom
of slow decay, the cold and soggy ever after.
Watching them, I think about your cremation,
the nearly invisible flames rendering you free
of sin and imperfection, purifying you
to gray-white powder, soft and fine in my hands—
how I sifted you into the river we fished,
you a silver-white spread on the dark water,
a swirling trail carried west, eddying
then disappearing into a rill of rapids,
of white water spilling over rocks, rushing
away from me to be, as ever, a bit downstream.
Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English, and now he tries writing himself what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and enjoy. In his newly abundant spare time, he has been reading Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Megan Peak, Tony Hoagland, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Morgan Parker. He has had poems published in 2River View, Cobalt Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Poem, South Carolina Review, and other literary magazines. He likes cruciferous vegetables too little and ice cream too much.
Art: “Waterfall” by Sandy Coomer - 12X16, acrylic pour on claybord
Statement: This piece embodies river and the film of ash being carried away as one brother lets the other go.