I know that my brother and I stood
beside the rail tracks in an open lot,
him telling stories of our grandfather,
yet memory fails to ignite the image
I want from that day, which is to see
his face working as he circled his way
through how the old man played tricks
on our grandmother, her stern face
breaking into laughter as I never saw.
I know that we had plates of spaghetti
for lunch at Louie’s Italian Restaurant,
and JFG coffee at the short-lived café
beside their downtown roasting house.
Overhead, the paraffin sweep of sky,
clouds melted by the sun they tried
to conceal, ground birds scrap-hunting
all around us, the day getting so quickly
away, faster even than my brother’s face,
which I have not seen for five long years,
and will not see in any years ahead.
Jesse Graves' first poetry collection, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, was published by Texas Review Press in 2011, and won the 2012 Weatherford Award in Poetry from Berea College, and the Book of the Year Award in Poetry from the Appalachian Writers’ Association. A second book of poems, Basin Ghosts, was released in 2014. Other recent work appears in various journals, including Prairie Schooner, Georgia Review, and Missouri Review Online.