The place was out beyond an old farmhouse,

a path through woods,

a clearing, sky; the others gathered close,

bounded by what each of us withstood.

The limestone scree tumbled down the hillside

intermittently, clouds covered the sun.

I shook the crushed femur and fibula

of peppered ashes, watched them weightless glide

like spores, and faintly salt and taint the tongue,

slow majesty of bone-dust candelabra.

Your half-brothers, behind me, began to sing

in harmony –

Christian, Bach – joining and gently weaving

until they filled the improvised canopy

that we, unchurched, brought to the blue hillside.

I ached, the ache I know as love, to turn

the immoveable to what the self requires:

the human instinct, clandestine inside,

that would protect (though all other things burn)

those we love from each ordinary fire.

‘Sweet child’ your father called you there, ‘brother’

my word for you.

Before that term, some nameless sound for ‘other’:

you; born ahead of me; all world I knew.