Gray Brother Grey Brother comes, speaking to me and I listen for I know that if I do not, he will act in my name, with my face, and people will claim it was me that did it when I know I was elsewhere, asleep and getting my rest, so I listen. This is Grey Brother, I want you to listen to him and ponder his words for Grey Brother does not lie but it is hard to find what it is he does not lie about. Come let us go, walk together in the garden In the cool of the evening and tell what we have heard and seen And ponder the words of Grey Brother for he does not lie. Ask, "What does he say and what does he say it of?" Ask, "What did he see and why did not we?" Should we go and look to see and know for ourselves? For Grey Brother does not lie. Grey Brother came to me this morning as I was walking and he walked with me, pacing his steps to mine, Pitching his words low that I might and others not hear him. For his words were for my ears and not another's, for they might not give me what is mine. I listened and made note of his words and listened to the sound of his passing. Footsteps matched, so only one is heard. Tread light, that none might note his passing. Only his words come without lies and I? I am left to find the truth where there are no lies.
This was first published in The Perch, vol. 4, Fall 2017. The Perch is Yale Medical School, Dept. of Psychiatry’s Arts & Literary Journal. “Grey Brother” is on page 16. This is also a magazine of some powerful writing not suitable for bedtime reading. Also remember that the speaker in the poem is not necessarily the author.
I wrote Grey Brother twenty years ago and have submitted it six times for publication. Took me that long to find the right place. I think I wrote it after hearing someone describe another writer being “dogged by depression all his life.” Grey Brother in my imagination is a gray wolf. Other people see him differently.