Cancer made you my brother,
and then it made me an only child.
I was in a forest in October when I
heard the news.
to look up at the branches,
their hands folded in prayer
beneath the sacred sky,
but I could not see you.
For a minute I couldn’t catch my breath,
and when I could again
there was only the smell of the fallen leaves
returning to their place in the Earth.
I remember how
we used to stay up all night laughing,
two young philosophers tossing water balloons at each other—
but instead of water, the balloons
were filled with questions like
“Won’t everything that eats dead things starve to death in heaven?”
I still stay up all night,
but not laughing.
There is some comfort, I suppose, in knowing
that fallen leaves no longer suffer.
A day will come for me
that has no tomorrow,
and I will walk back into the forest.
I will go to you, brother,
but you will not return to me.