Author’s Note: “The occasion for this poem was attending a friend’s 50th birthday party and seeing his younger brother for the first time in 30-plus years. That small shockwave of recognition and surprise at his aging sent me heading down this poetic rabbit hole, where I found myself wanting to hold the moment briefly, then accelerate time at warp speed — as a reminder (mostly to myself) of this precious continuum that links us all.”
Yes, Who Were Those People?
A friend turns fifty. Throws a party.
His gray-haired younger brother
greets me at the door.
Last time I saw you, he says,
it was spring, nineteen-seventy-two.
Instantly, I remember the skin-and-bones teenage him—
the ready laugh, the scraggly hair,
the tortured jeans—spinning on bare heels
in this very hallway and stud-strutting toward…
What adults don’t tell children:
aging can’t quite sift the child out,
even as it stuns with its efficiency,
its complicity with the steady murmur
of an expanding universe.
As I write this, that party is long past,
longer still by the time you read these lines,
perhaps in the dim bedside light spilling
onto the ever-so-slow-to-ungather pages
as you prepare, again, for the day of night
to morph into the night of day,
when you’ll sleep again and wake again
and again walk out into the latest translation
of the sun’s burning wish, where only the shadow
of a moment can be held, but strangely,
like the throaty whisper of a parting lover.
A wink, a kiss, a wedding vow, the birth of children
who are already remembering years ago.
Some smug scholar looks back:
Who were those people? he thinks,
before joining us in the starlight.
Michael Brosnan’s recent book of poetry, “The Sovereignty of the Accidental,” was published in 2018 by Harbor Mountain Press. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Moth, Borderlands, Rattle, Confrontation, Barrow Street, New Letters, and others. He’s the author of “Against the Current,” a book on inner-city education, and serves as the senior editor of the website: TeachingWhileWhite.org. He lives in Exeter, New Hampshire. Website: www.michaelabrosnan.com.
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