The Myth of Albrecht Dürer's Brother
Who worked in the gold mines,
twisting his eyes, his fingers,
so Albrecht could learn to paint
bird wings. Whose lungs filled
with dust so his brother could breathe
the sweet air of high regard. Who
might have been a better artist,
or a doctor, or a farmer, instead
of a crippled shadow. The myth
is a lie: this brother didn't exist,
didn't give up his life for Albrecht.
And yet he does exist. He does.
wouldn't be the word for it:
this itch beneath my skin
to erase what lingered when you left.
I'm not worried about catching colds
or viral anything, really--
when I scrub the plate you ate from,
the fork you used, your cup,
I try to wash away the traces
of your lips, the heat from your hands.
My hands are raw from this.
My eyes crawl over what you touched:
that chair, the wall next to the light switch,
the bedroom doorknob. I threw away
the bed sheets, but not the matches
you left by the makeshift ashtray.
I saved them just in case Lysol
and bleach don't clean you out of my house.
-after Ronald Wallace
Pamela Klein's poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in the Paterson Literary Review, the Tipton Poetry Journal, Plain Spoke, Barbaric Yawp, and Inner Weather.