by Bob Bradshaw
The Writer's Block
Third Place, April 2020
Judged by Terese Coe

Conjoined at the hip and chest,
we were partners in a slow dance.

Though our parents were divorced,
we never knew loneliness.

When talk of separation came up
we looked at each other

the way a pilot and co-pilot
in a piper plane do

when flying at low altitude,
and the engine stalls.

Our parents chatted up the joy
of jumping puddles, and weeks later

I awoke to my brother lying in a bed
next to mine. His full face

clearly seen for the first time.
And when Brady turned his back

and strode the hospital hall without me
I saw my future.

To this day I know when he feels ill–
I take to my bed. And when he’s happy

I’m happy. Brady remains
as close to me as my chest scar.

When I’m sad I run my finger over it
and imagine, again, feeling whole.

With profound ironies on the subject of trauma, wholeness, and independence, this poem also strikes me as somewhat cinematic. The diction is relatively simple and powerful. The final couplet is adept, using negative space to create an explosive epiphany. --Terese Coe