Portrait of My Father, on the Death of His Brother – Poetry by Kathryn Muensterman

Rene Magritte – The musings of the solitary walker
Your pressed blue-gray jacket lies stiff on your bed
on a cloudless October morning.
Cracked-knuckled in a cracked mirror
you tie a perfect double Windsor.
                                                            Eternal rest
You smoke as you drive to the church,
eyes tired, humming to the Eagles and the engine.
Like Mary poised above, serene with daggered heart,
you will not cry today.
                                                            grant unto him
You’ll squeeze Mom’s hand once.
                                                            (When I go, just roll me down the hill.)

I have not called you since your birthday five weeks ago,
so I recall the last and first image I have of you:
grease-covered, sweating in wrinkled blue-gray button-down
on Franklin Street, noon in mid-July
                                                             O Lord,

in the shop where your father taught you and your brothers
to listen to engine hums and smoke, where the oldest did the paperwork
and answered the phones, like kids
huddled around an unexpected call.

You pat the hood of a blue-gray hearse.
                                                              (I’ll be riding in one of these soon.)
Your brother answers phones nearby.
                                                              and may perpetual light shine upon him.

About the Poet

Kathryn Muensterman is a native of Indiana and is currently pursuing a BA in English Literature at Washington and Lee University. She is the winner of a 2020 Academy of American Poets University Prize for her poem “Eschatology,” and her poetry has also appeared in Amethyst Review and Washington and Lee’s literary magazine, Ampersand.

For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.

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