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 is the author of Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014) and The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, which she coauthored with Martha Silano. Her other books include Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, Small Knots, Geography, and Fire On Her Tongue: An Anthology of Contemporary Women’s Poetry which she edited with Annette Spaulding-Convy. Kelli is the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press and was the editor of Crab Creek Review. When not writing or editing, she can be found in her small Northwest seaside town mountain-biking, paddleboarding, or walking her golden retriever, Buddy Holly. See more at