Poem About My Late Brother Kevin’s Body by Brian Doyle

Boy, it was a whopper of a body, is the first thing to say.
A capacious being for a capacious soul. Huge mustache;
Walrussian, is the best explanation. The word withering
Was invented for his glare. He was a tall skinny praying
Mantis as a teenager but then he was essentially bearish,
Or ursine, as he would say quietly. With a hint of a grin.
He had ratty knees. Oh, I get the whole cremation thing,
But today I refuse to acknowledge ashes in a buried box.
I refuse. I disacknowledge. I insist that what is so is not.
Today he is backing down the lane slow as snow while I
Decide to pick one coast or the other of his epic rear end
And dash out and steal the ball because it’s damn certain
I can’t shoulder him and keep him from inching glacially
To the basket with that incredibly frustrating metronomic
Dribble, steady as a heartbeat, until he is about six inches
From the basket and throws up that silly stupid tiny hook
That never misses. You can’t tell me he’s not hitting that
Maddening little ballerina hook shot; not today you can’t.
That shot wins the game too and our next brother steps in
Because he has winners and Kevin admits a hint of a grin
And I am staying here all afternoon until I beat him again.
You guys can go to the cemetery if you like but I got next.

Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of many books, notably the sprawling Oregon novel Mink River. His new collection of ‘proems,’ A Shimmer of Something, will be published in 2014.