Louise Robertson

Diminuendo al Niente

Untitled by Maria Dashkova

For years, my religious brother has stuffed his depression
diagnoses into his pockets. Now he starves himself,
becomes gaunt as a plank.
“I weigh 107 pounds,” he says.
My brother likes the ceremony of the church
as if it were both a hot wire puncture
and the white dressing around it. Even so,
no holy oil spread on his face seems to help.
He ignores the doctors, too.
What can I say to him? As soon as a priest laid hands
on me, I went and knelt before the altar
of the written word. I text him mornings trying to avoid the sin
of telling him how much I enjoy the salt and fish of the world.
Otherwise, he’ll say how he wishes he could have that.
The only answer I have is no answer:
Look, brother, look at the blocked bodies
of the concrete river locks soaking in the water.
You could make a nave of those repeating forms
fading into the fog and make incense
of their murk and mark the high tide lines.
You could make a prayer of that. You could.


About the writer:
Louise Robertson is widely published in journals (e.g., Crack the Spine, After the Pause, and more) and has a full-length book of poetry, The Naming Of (2015, Brick Cave Media). She helps run the Writers’ Block Poetry
Night, gives writing workshops, and is co-founder of the Ohio MeatGrinder Slam. This poem was a 2017 O:JA&L Pushcart Prize nominee.

Image: Untitled by Maria Dashkova. Fine art photograph. No technical details specified. By 2017. By permission.