Bone Birds
by Hugh Tribbey

My brother used to be all
loudness and gobbled
space and push,
the favored firstborn
with a big house, big
career---until cancer took
half his stomach.
Now his hands are
pale fluttery things
as he fiddles with
the IV, the bag
of chalky nutrients
hanging on its hook.

In his green pajamas
in the den of his great home,
he tells himself he is recovering
and I fumble for the cavalier,
"You look like Yasser Arafat now
with all those whiskers
on your chin and throat."

"I want you to know,"
his voice breaking,
"I've been through hell
these last few weeks."

I reply softly,
"I know, I know."

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