From Prison, My Brother Gives a Eulogy

— Bryce Emley

—for Beau, inmate at Taylor Correctional Institution; Perry, FL

Over the church’s speakers,
another absence at the end of a voice

that told me once he had the devil in his head
says that now he speaks with God,

that our mother had been the kindness
of angels. Her last days,

I must have looked for once
as I choose to remember my brother:

passed out stoned on the driveway,
night sweating already the fever of morning

as a machine dragged her mercifully into sleep.
At dinner, she would ask for blessing.

We would bow our heads, search chipped plates
for our hunger, how little separates waiting from prayer.

His time runs out, and every mouth in the sanctuary
is full of rain. I don’t speak,

jealous of his grief, how much of it he has,
admire the altar so crowded

with calla lilies the casket is framed
in immaculate light.

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