Christopher Howell

Your Brother’s Face
November 2, 2013 Howell Christopher

Your Brother’s Face


You believe your brother will come down

after the rains

and rock with you through the twilight suicides

of moths against the bulb

hanging from the porch ceiling like an answer

or a bald old man on fire with love.


He will be tired, your brother.  Wearing tired moons

on his fingernails, he will tell you the train that brought him

ran on shadows, the fireman feeding them into a vat

of black flame as the stars emerged and an owl

flew among them, looking for whatever secret thing

might hide and breathe and never make it home.


He will say it is better to forget

than forgive and show you a photograph of a blind man

waving to an empty field.  How long has he been

standing by that hill where the road stops?

Surely in town the bars have closed their faces

and your brother’s face turns toward you, more beautiful


than young, like something tarnished

but glimmering.  If it’s a stranger’s face, you’re home

and your brother is all around you under the lamp.

Christopher Howell’s twelfth collection of poems, The Grief of a happy Life, was published in 2019 by the University of Washington Press. His new volume, Book of Beginnings and Ends, is forthcoming this spring from Stephen F. Austin University Press. Other work may be found in over forty anthologies, and, recently, in the pages of New Letters, Poetry International, the Gettysburg Review, The Birmingham Poetry Review, I-70 Review, and Image.  He is director and principal editor for Lynx House Press and lives in Spokane, Washington.