The Brunch

by Brian Brodeur

It is much the way you said it would be, the world without you.
After the decision not to make a fuss, after the mass

and limo ride home for a change of clothes,
we walk through the pristine doors of the new Ramada Inn:

pitchers of ice water and OJ swaddled in cloth napkins,
rhubarb salad bleeding on a silver tray.

You’d wanted to know-as we all want to know-the details
that survive you: whether or not your ex-wife would show,

which maverick relative would speak first through their spumoni,
who would weep. In the background, a few crackling speakers

play something you’d have been ashamed to call music.
Your brothers and I, moaning into our drinks, nod about the day

you lured the stray with a bowl of poisoned meat
and smashed its twitching head with your father’s hammer.

Population control, one of them grunts.
Only your mother seems alone with her violent grief,

bowed over the fruit salad, unable to lift the spoon: that feeling
of vacancy you spoke so shyly of over beers that morning.

An emptiness, you said, not like a hunger so much as a
cancer after it’s been removed. The honeydew. The mango.

The roast dribbling its unwarm juices onto the bleached-
white linen. The stain vaguely resembling a map.

From Other Latitudes (University of Akron Press, 2008).

Brian Brodeur is the author of So the Night Cannot Go on Without Us (2007), winner of the Fall 2006 White Eagle Coffee Store Press Chapbook Contest. Other Latitudes is his first full-length collection.

*Photo courtesy of fiskfisk.