Poetry: Brother by Steven Sanchez

Steven Sanchez’s new work pleads with love—for preservation, for family. “Brother” plays a melancholy song, mudcracked and wilting, but not one without hope, or without beauty. The poem seeks the place inside us where the cool water of sibling love finally pools.


++++++++++Like water, you poured

Lunesta in your cupped hand


++++++++++++++and drained our mother’s bottle

++++++++++++++empty. Often, I know thirst


is an afterthought, the body

mudcracked long before


++++++++++++++the tongue dries

++++++++++++++and buds its first cacti.


You reached inside your throat

and plucked a desert bloom,


++++++++++++++plucked again           and again

++++++++++++++until your body expelled


a bouquet. Left behind,

a single clipping can sprout


++++++++++++++and grow a shadow

++++++++++++++where it’s so appealing to sit


and call it rest. I have

planted seeds in your chest,


++++++++++++++tilled the soil with my own

++++++++++++++two fists—hated you, like myself.


Is it a phase?           

No, he’s a faggot.


++++++++++++++Mom and dad whispered

++++++++++++++about me. They whispered


about you, too. Mom says

to prolong a flower’s life,


++++++++++++++cut the stems,

++++++++++++++fill the vase with aspirin


water—before it wilts,

hang it upside down


++++++++++++++and douse it

++++++++++++++in hairspray.


For years, I’ve kept

mine this way: brittle


++++++++++++++and delicate.

++++++++++++++++++++++They say


flowers thrive when you talk

to them, when you sing


++++++++++++++lullabies. Please, Jacob, hear me

++++++++++++++when I say                 I love you.



Steven Sanchez

Steven Sanchez is the author of Phantom Tongue (Sundress Publications, 2018), selected for the Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award by Mark Doty. He is a CantoMundo Fellow, Lambda Literary Fellow, and the inaugural winner of the Federico García Lorca Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Agni, American Poetry Review, Missouri Review, and elsewhere.

Close Menu