Summer still and still the evening
and I am on my front porch
rocking and middle-distance
gazing beyond the stars,
letting thought come and go
like flickering lightning bugs
turning on, turning off.
The trace of pine in tonight’s
warm air is faint compared
to the pine smell of disinfectant
swabbed in the halls of
the nursing home where I visit
my brother. Confined to wheelchair
and bed by recurrence of the dread
disease suffered 40 years ago,
he is quarantined again, cut off from
the world, contained, constrained,
his body constricted by an internal iron lung.
Oh, sweet brother, you have no porch
on which to rock, from which to stare
beyond night’s warm, mid-summer air.

WILLIAM SWARTS is the author of Harmonies Unheard, Strickland Plains and Other Poems and Treehouse of the Mind. He won First Prize in the Litchfield Review’s annual Poetry Contest. His poetry has been published in many recognized literary reviews and journals. He received his B.A. in English Literature from Brown University, his J.D. from University of Pennsylvania.