Posted by: Dan | July 22, 2017

Where Mighty Ships Founder: A Poem on the Occasion of My Second Oldest Brother’s 40th Birthday

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He listens more than he speaks and hears more than you say.

He knows that strength has limits and that the pain of the world is infinite and so, although he carries more than most, he does not carry more than he can bear. The ones he carries he carries well.

He knows that beauty, kindness, and love are infinite, too. And that a beer at the end of the day can help us remember this.

His eyes do a lot of his talking – “You’re safe here” and “I honour your presence with me” and “I’m not going to touch your body with my hands or with my gaze” (a rare statement to find in the eyes of a man) – things that don’t so much add to a conversation as make it possible in the first place. He makes it easy to speak in a way that feels honest.

He is gentle like a grizzly nursing her cubs. I’m pretty sure he is our mom’s favourite (and, when I was younger, I had to get used to the fact that whenever I introduced him to my friends, they were going to like him more than they liked me).

He is my brother and my friend and I love him devotedly, ferociously, playfully, stupidly. He was always cooler than I, but never stopped finding ways to invite me to share life together with him. Shortly after my parents kicked me out, he invited me down to Windsor to spend the weekend visiting with him and his friends. They were all in University and I was still in high school. This made me feel special at a time when I generally felt like a piece of shit. Later, when he invited me to work at the camp where he worked, I felt the same way. When my heart was a raging ocean, he helped me find safe passage through the storm.

And when his heart was a raging ocean he turned to the cliffs and carved himself a bay. His wife worked alongside of him and together they made a home for themselves. Their daughters are growing up beside those still waters. And although they are still young, their legs are taller than mountains and, one day, they will walk across the sea and storms that cause mighty ships to founder will only come up to their knees.

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