I. At our dad’s funeral

A woman I don’t remember
says she knew me when I was
“this high,” slices the air
at her thighs with a flat hand.

She touches my hair,
notes my father’s was
the same shade of yellow.
She tells me my father lives

through my hair, through me.
She says nothing to my brother,
who knew our father
better than I did, longer,

maybe even loved him more,
but whose hair isn’t like our dad’s.

II. When asked if he’s my real brother

I think of what’s thicker than blood—
love, sure, but mostly
our ability to unnerve each other
with a look, the girlfriends
he doesn’t tell me about
anymore, the money I won’t get back.
How my first lie was to him. How he
kicked my husband out for gloating
when Pujols left the Cards. How his
unsteady walk felt through
our linked arms
as he walked me down the aisle.

This is a reprint of work originally published in While the Kettle’s On.

Melissa Fite Johnson’s poetry has appeared in such publications as I-70 Review, The New Verse News, The Invisible Bear, and Inscape. Her first collection, While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015), won the Nelson Poetry Book Award. Melissa and her husband live in Kansas, where she teaches English. Her website:

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