Two Poems

by Brian Brodeur


My mother spreads tinsel snow over the kitchen sills,
sets the cedar manger in its place, arranging

the hollow plastic magi next to a cradle
displaying the baby Jesus missing an arm.

The little enameled figure of Mary kneeling
embraces something only she can see. Pinned to the banister,

our crocheted stockings sag. All afternoon
she listens to laundry click in the pantry dryer,

packing layers of chocolate cake and home-made cream
into Tupperware for the Heath-Bar trifle we love.

Light moves across the counter, almost touching her hand,
shattering over an open drawer of knives.


for Erin

As she clutches the metal ribs of the hospital bed—
still dreamy with pain and the morphine drip

they’ve started to wean her off—my sister
sucks ice chips from the nurse’s latex hand.

From her room on the fifth floor, she’s watched
rainwater pool and dissipate on tar-streaked roofs,

heaves of cloud-shadow drag across the courtyard
where shirtless men clear last season’s leaf-rot.

The fresh-stitched wound above her collarbone
bristles like a caterpillar. Her dark hair

spreads its root system over the pillow and her eyes
open and close, rolling back in her head.