Almost Someone Coming Home

after Anne Sexton

There is always another story, and in this one I am
almost someone coming home. Floes of ice crack
on the Potomac, the first freeze in as many years as
I have been alive. I believe in coincidences, misspelled
names on tickets, the undulating light which grows
warm between the fractures in those interior spaces.

My brother and I have separate specialties: one of us
is the eye of a needle: expertly empty, a vessel for the
passing-through. The other is a bent nail in the doorway,
unnoticeable, waiting to catch on your bare foot. The
phrase “I will outlive you,” comes into my head as we wait
in the elevator and for a moment I feel a thrill of sibling

triumph in this cruelty that is not even my own, before
remembering these too are the statistics that say I will die
undignified, alone. I will breathe for at least ten years longer,
three times three plus one, deadly arithmetic of this gap
between us. I want to reach for his hand in this absence, but
the elevator chimes and he walks off into the fluorescent hall.

Alexandra Smyth