Winter coming to Tonawanda Street.
Here in my new writing chair, at the foyer
window on this day when the world seems
a little safer, a little saner, than yesterday’s
fears would have had it. I am trying a new
space, a new place, a new practice.

Can I practice what I preach? Or what is
preached to me? Tonawanda Street right now,
late morning – almost noon – is quiet, empty.
Nobody stirring. No, wrong. Sparrows stir
in the lilac’s leaves. The breeze is just a
quiver, a shiver in those leaves. The sun

defines surfaces, bold, flat, a light which
willl not admit ambiguity, dissent. I am
thinking about my oldest brother, the first
sibling I lost, longest ago, in the sequence
of losses, first him, then my sister, closest
in age to me, though not close in spirit,

last my second oldest brother, pal, ally,
nurturer with whom I fought openly, yet
knew I loved and was loved by. How
different that relationship was from that
with my oldest brother, furthest from me
in age, yet closest in its way. Each of us

dissenter, rebel, artist, we were allies and
enemies – is this true of all siblings? He
treated me like a date, not sister, taking me
out in his small boat on waters around the
city we lived in. When I was afraid to dive
into the ocean from its prow, he solved my

paralysis by pushing me off. I look out
now at sparrows in the lilac leaves, fragile,
vulnerable. The breeze scatters them, not
a hand. They gather in the shade, resist as
they can. I didn’t resist you. I took what you
offered me. From it I learned what I could.