To My Never Born Brother or Sister

Patrick Hansel

To imagine you is to look inside
our mother, look inside death
and see you under water,
your bones tender like shoots
of new asparagus, your smile
hidden, your heart coming
to a full stop. You never

got to breathe, to hold
in your hand a ball,
a book, a rabbit or peony picked
from a neighbor’s yard. My parents—
our parents—forgot to name
you, or if they did, they forgot
to tell us. You came out wrong

and they baptized you
on the kitchen table, and that
was that. You went to limbo,
we went to forgetting. I
do not know how
to address you, little one,

gene of my genes, remembrance
not remembered, false alarm
at the birthing stool. I want
to put my flailing arms around
you, and push you back, in
time, and in our mother’s flesh,

and give you something, a
sword, a little stick, some talisman
to shove in the face of death.