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I’m writing a chapter for my WIP on sibling loss, and I’ve read several enlightening studies. But I thought I’d include a poem in the chapter, too, to offer a literary perspective. I turned to Matt Rasmussen‘s Black Aperture, which won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets and was a 2013 finalist for the National Book Award.

Here’s the paragraph in which I include a few lines from the poem:

In Matt Rasmussen’s poem, “Phone,” the narrator plants a phone at a grave. Presumably the narrator is Rasmussen, and this is the grave of Rasmussen’s brother, for the collection in which “Phone” appears, Black Aperture, addresses his brother’s death by suicide. Over time, the phone sprouts and grows. “I’d hoped its ring would/shudder upward and each blade/of grass become a chime, pealing.” Rasmussen’s yearns for his brother, yearns for a simple, earthly way to still talk to him. If only it were that easy: plant a telephone at a grave and talk to your brother. At the end of the poem, after waiting for it to ring for who knows how long, Rasmussen recognizes the futility:

No one is calling so
I put it to my ear

expecting the steady
dial tone of your voice

but hear only the dark
breathing of the dirt.

* * *

You can get Black Aperture here.