I spent an evening with
an Irish-American pair of siblings
he in his forties and she a decade older.
Two of nine siblings
they had a language of gestures:
eyebrow positioning and chin tucking
and a leaning of their heads
toward one another.
He I’ve known for a decade
and never met his family about which I’d enjoyed
old stories told on late, drunken nights
without his eyes ever meeting the listener’s.
And now here was his big sister
whose fleshy white arms extended wide and
when she said “Oh I’m just so happy” and “I am so blessed”
I knew she meant for
this evening by the creek in her brother’s cabin
but also for her life,
even its sorrows–of which I knew she’d had many,
and I also knew when she raised her glass
and said those grateful words
she meant them.
And he, her brother, our old neighbor, our good old neighbor
who most often would shift restlessly on his feet
and busy himself burning high dusty piles of pine needles
had a glint in one eye I’d never seen
and a loose arm flopped over his sister’s broad, soft, shoulders.
I fell asleep remembering the way
her cheeks lifted
and her eyebrows shot up
when I showed her the berry pie I had baked,
the way she’d clapped her
pale, plump hands together.