Self Portrait with Imaginary Brother

after a painting by William De Kooning
After I’m done
    raking the giant
hands of maple leaves
and the tools
    have been returned
to the shed, I call my brother
to see if he got the job,
    if his cancer
is back, if his greenhouse
blew over in the wind.
    This is the soup
of our lives, he
is an invisible breath
    and I am the one asking
questions. After I’ve had
enough of the women
    who chatter
sour cream and onion
gossip while waiting
    to pick up their kids,
I call my brother
to ask him if I have
    too many friends
made of paper, if I should
drink more wine, adjust
    my rose-colored glasses
to an even brighter shade.
My brother, quiet,
    let’s me decide
for myself,
his response is always
    the wind, his voice
touching every leaf.

Kelli Russell Agodon’s most recent book, Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014), was a Finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Prize in Poetry. Her other books include The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice (coauthored with Martha Silano), Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry (co-edited with Annette Spaulding-Convy), and Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Prize for poetry and a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. Her work as appeared in The Atlantic, Harvard Review, and New England Review. Kelli is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer and is also the Co-Director of the Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in the Pacific Northwest where she is an avid paddleboarder and hiker. She is currently working on her 4th collection of poems. /