A loss is forever mine to keep

a poem by Jan Oskar Hansen

My older brother was a healthy looking fellow
always ready to joke and play,
when he lay dead on a slab in the morgue
he looked like a third rate actor
too tanned to be convincing
acting dead.
And to think that
he had killed himself,
an overdose of sleeping pills.

When they lowered the coffin
into frozen Nordic soil,
that had begun to thaw now
that spring whispered sweetly,
I waited for him to knock on the lid
and ask to be let out,
when this didn’t happen,
I wondered if there had been a awful mistake
that he was in a hospital,
somewhere, in deep coma.

Mother was bitter
when her son died
she had no one to drink with anymore
and in her cups she said
she hadn’t minded if it was me
cause I was always a stranger;
true even in a one room flat
I managed to create my own space in a corner,
reading, observing and admiring
brother’s easy smile.

With brother gone, I left home,
joined the merchant navy
to see the world
and discovered that a bar
or a whore
looks the same
whether in Shanghai or New York.
Then mother died
and I was too far away
to attend her funereal,
but I still wait for my brother to come out of coma
at some mysterious hospital
deep in the valley of lost dreams.