by Sabrina Sanchez


you were my person

for seven years

my person

one day to next

vanished absent

at your piano

an empty bench

stolen away

hands sticky with

sap and suffrage

sleepless on cold ground

two years learning

subsistence forced

to keep going and

“be an example”

(because my leaving

would be like giving

you permission to

abandon what’s left)

and when you came back

we were different people

no longer home grown

separate vines

you were your own person

from then on

new you


you were my brother

all my life

my brother

yet you left me

too many times

big brother protector

abandons post

veins steeped in tar

obscured in vapor

nose to powder

you inhaled

stole my six strings

sold ‘em in Georgia

after two weeks

missing you’d return

(because sixteen can’t

be saved by sabbatical

and your sentence

hadn’t been served)

to be delivered

across country

countless crossings

keeping us apart

you’re still my brother

bond from blood

my brother


you were a person

for too brief

a person

dear to the people

dear to me

close to the people

close to me

mother daughter

sister grandmother

you couldn’t be

everything to everyone

your bible passed

around the family

believer — your prayers

didn’t save you

(because it’s not

easy to leave

by choice when

you have no choice)

outside window panes

hands pressed on

frigid glass translucent

to us onlookers

you’re not a person

from now on

just gone  

Thumbnail image by Elizabeth Winn and Sabrina Sanchez.