Grey Brother

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
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.

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