Mercury
Pamela Davis
It's just flu, my younger brother says calling from Washington. We whisper
jokes, stories into the dark. His. Ours. The autumn Dad couldn't stop

dying, I watched this brother slip clean as a scalpel into a pool, legs silent behind
him. The reach of his arms carried him far. Carried him north. Eyes on the sky,

he planted pine. Wrote tall tales. Prospected. Each time he moved, he said he'd found
paradise. Last was a gold-glazed valley—stark, isolated those winters Snoqualmie Pass froze.

On New Year's he shot off fireworks, blazing rockets that lit the ice-clad ground
as they fell. He came home—once—for Mother's funeral, held out his arms for me

to walk into the church of him. His hands held my shoulders. I knew he'd never
return. His second day in the hospital, he says I never thought I'd go like Dad, his voice full

of wonder. As I wait to change planes in San Francisco, the doctor calls, says "we lost
him." He keeps talking. I press my forehead against the terminal glass, watch snub-nosed 

planes file into position. They stop. Wait. Inch forward.  I gather my brother back on a silver 
thread, his slip of a grin. What small thing remains in my palm? A pearl 
of mercury breaking apart, collects again. 
        
Pamela Davis is a California poet with recent work appearing in Prairie Schooner, Painted Bride Quarterly, Existere Journal of Literature and Art (Canada), Natural Bridge, Sou'Wester, Stand (UK), Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Zone 3. A recipient of Atlanta Review's International Poetry Prize, Davis has also been published in Nimrod as a semi-finalist for the Neruda Award, in Southern Poetry Review's special Poets of the West and West Coast issue, as well as in CALYX, Folio, Jabberwock Review, New Ohio Review, Southern Humanities Review and other literary journals. In addition to freelance editing and writing, she has a first book of poetry making the rounds. Her first summer job was working as a go-fer at her father's mortuary.


more by Pamela Davis:
Your Chair
Build to Suit
Birds Caught in Windows
Hotel Room