Brother died; I don't know why

by Jenny J. Chen

            I am thinking it on my drive to work.
           Another accident on 495. Three car pile up.
A hundred cars rubbernecking their way to D.C.

Especially since he hasn't died,
           and only last night, he and I trampled snow and ice,
           looking for my glasses, orphaned somewhere between
S Street and 14th. We finally found them on the other side of T,

and laughed all the way to the bathroom at the Starbucks
          where we warmed our fingers and watched the coffee shop people.
          That's what I was thinking about as I watched
the carcass of another car being loaded onto the bed of a tow truck,

how when I was a child and my mother stood in the kitchen, looking up
          at the yellow stain that was spreading like a crumbling map
          across the ceiling sky from the toilet that had regurgitated
without warning, trying to grasp how you could go to work every single day

and one day
           you could find that your building is no longer there—
           only ashes drifting like the billowing of empty curtains.
The dead make it look so easy. I don't know how to prepare myself

for when what I've grown used to is gone.
          How to avoid being left wearing the face of a broken clock,
          minute hand shuddering in place.


Jenny J. Chen is a writer based in New Haven, Connecticut, with words in The Atlantic, NPR, the Washington Post, Guernica, and others.