Today's poem is by Murray Reiss

What Runs in the Family

My mother's deaf-mute brother died
before I could be his nephew,
swinging from the crook of a maple tree

in the brick-walled institution
where he learned to talk
with his hands. Our daughter was three

before we discovered one of her ears
couldn't hear. My mother found
the tree he hung from, huge now, its branches

blotting the sky. We gathered
everything we would need — the veins
of its greenest leaves, a smear of pollen,

scrapings of moss-covered bark and,
digging deeper, a severed fingernail
of root. Under my breath I hum

her favourite lullaby, grind the gathered
ingredients into a powder,
listen for last instructions.

Copyright © 2017 Murray Reiss All rights reserved
from Cemetery Compost
Frontenac House
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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