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Toi Derricotte: For my unnamed brother (1943-1943)

i was left out

i was chosen second & then left out

i was left

handed  i was left

to fend for myself   i 

was the second in

command  the second

in line   i came

without direction

            *

i want the 

milk  i want my

first pick  i want

choice   & all its implications  there was a

            *

residue of

scar

between us  it chafed

when we rubbed our

chests together

            *

                                     hello, brother, hello?

hello in there, brother, can you

hear me?  it’s a long

tunnel to the grave    speak

you were my

first god  i was rapt in your

coming

                         (mother better

eat her vegetables, she better chew) choo

choo

what’s bitter between us

            *

                                              i want the

milk  i need it for my

teeth  they’re

soft  the gums

bleed  there’s the evidence

on my toothbrush  i got the

second draft  i need calcium

to make up  i

got a job

             & left

i don’t know where you’re

buried

            *

what do you

need?  what will make you

happy?  what do you

want?  the dead

do have mouths &

appetites  suck it

up   there’s plenty in the ice

box   more

where that came from

            *

                                      if somebody

asked me what’s

next  i wouldn’t

know  i took my hands off

her like something

hot  or fragile   or in

pain  i was

aghast  at suffering how you can feed

& feed it

               & it’s never

full

            *

                          there’s a separation

between us  a suppuration  there’s just the  

space of an idea  i don’t know what’s

missing  it’s a blind

spot  sometimes my left eye

focuses & it’s like looking at

both of us through a

window

            *

                                    i’m telling you the

facts of life for

you haven’t been told

you’re in your late

fifties  you’re dis-

eased or disinterested  a

queer unable to

come out of the casket  OK

            *

you live this

life  i’ll live the

next  she only has enough milk for

one baby  i’ll go 

around this

time  you come the

next  that time you’ll have a

better mother i

promise you that


Toi Derricotte was the recipient of the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.

Toi Derricotte, “For my unnamed brother [1943-1943]” from The Undertaker’s Daughter. Copyright © 2014 by Toi Derricotte.  Reprinted by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014)

Toi Derricotte (African American Registry)

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This entry was posted on July 25, 2022 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , , , .

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