First Night

The lamp above our kitchen table lit
a corner of the world I knew. The light

was warm and not so bright as not to show
the dark around it. I stood in the dark outside

the open door, the way we all stood back
when someone lit a fire in the hearth,

although I didn’t think of that then. There
in the light, on our mother’s lap, seized with the knowledge

he could not un-know—the box he’d seen
them lower, flowers and all; the Easter lilies

he’d picked from the neighbors’ perennial bed; and Nate
inside the box, a tumor in his brain—

my brother sobbed, writhing in her embrace
then giving in, collapsing at her chest,

his words combined and interrupted with
the uncontrollable first sounding of grief—

no, fear: “But I don’t want to die!” She held him,
kissed the top of his head. And then she murmured

something in his ear. It was the right
thing for her to say.

Will Toedtman

Will Toedtman

Will Toedtman lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.He is the author of The Several World, winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize.New poems are forthcoming in Able Muse, The Hopkins Review, Dappled Things, and elsewhere.
Will Toedtman

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Author: Will Toedtman

Will Toedtman lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of The Several World, winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. New poems are forthcoming in Able Muse, The Hopkins Review, Dappled Things, and elsewhere.