“Witness” by Daniel David


A witness to that gray moment

In Cleveland, incised in memory,

Not a requiem, a vision:

Saint Teresa pierced with her arrow,

No! There’s no ciphering it.

 

Not your kiss; that came

Years later, etching an entirely

Distinct resonance, a soft, heady

Andante, but never quite the pitch.

 

It was in painting class, mythical

Forest of easels, aped inspiration,

Spreading butter on bread, aimlessly

Pushing hues around canvasses.

 

You’d just returned from Kentucky,

Your little brother gone,

The last, black and white silhouette

Icon near his sisters’ rooms.

 

Across the studio I’m stunned

By your wild-eyed bewilderment,

Vicious puncture through the breast,

Enormous tears on deluged cheeks,

Engraving indelible fissures.

 

Too young, too lucky, too oblivious

Yet to hear Death’s relentless dirge,

My empathy too naïve, my words,

Leaden lumps of useless ore,

 

(Eventually, he noticed and whispered

sad tunes through my days.)

 

Still, I recognized this grim chorus,

Harsh, metallic flavor on the lips,

Your little brother, little boy reflection

To another, my butchered innocence.

 

In that gray moment, now three

Decades past, I comprehend the bond.

My sister, when your fingers fly

Over the keys, you play for him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel David is a writer, artist, and professor living along the southern shore of Lake Erie in North America. His poems have appeared widely in a number of venues across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. His publications also include articles in the Journal of Creative Behavior; chapbooks Close to Home and Two Buddha, and his novel, Flying Over Erie.