Death of an Older Brother

( i.m. Paul Nash 1889-1946 and John Nash 1893-1977)

There were gaps, some overlapping, some uniquely one’s own.
Childhood was hard,
we didn’t dwell there,
stepped aside, rushed past
saw beyond.
Looking back
it’s as if there’s dead ground,
an absence that drags.

And stories,
like the ones we found we could tell
as we told them.
When I asked you “Is that really what happened?”
it’s because I didn’t know it’s the wrong question,
word and occasion don’t mesh like that.
Syntax isn’t a net which can lift a tench from a pond,
no amount of telling makes things so.
Which doesn’t mean a story can’t be useful, not at all.
They helped us breathe more easily
be resolute
have deeper feelings
notice more
keep things apart, keep things going.
Hold personal stuff distinct from the general commotion.
A storm coming up on the blindside,
the relief when it broke,
happiness falling like rain.
The skip forward, impulse of love.

Very many.
Anger and pain,
no saying which came first.
Not being at home in the world
nor in our flesh.

All along,
or so it seems now
you were who I was trying to be.
Is that even possible?
Days working together,
often as one.

No more.

It is intended that this poem be read in conjunction with the previous post, Psychotherapy – some thoughts.

Published by davidcookpoet

I am a husband, father and grandfather. I retired from a busy working life as an adult psychiatrist in 2014. My interests are in literature, philosophy, modern jazz and horse racing. I might represent those four fields by Shakespeare, Kant, Charlie Parker and Lester Piggott. Like nearly all of us, I can identify a number of formative experiences, one of which was a psychotic episode in my first year as a psychiatrist. This reinforced an already established interest in mystical experience, and a sense of how little human beings know. My intellectual bugbear is reductive materialism, and I am surprised at the lack of moral imagination of those who promulgate such views. It seems to me they need to consider ,perhaps by exposure, just why totalitarianism is so horrific.

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