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.

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