2 by Cameron Morse

Older Brother
If I step outside to scrape burnt bacon and egg over a bowl of dog food and sense a childhood ghost squatting in my periphery above an oak leaf, I, too, might think twice about saying hello, especially when only he and I are home. I would find his behavior strange, far be it from me to speculate on the particular properties of the leaf, the frost glittering on the spine, say, or serrating its edges. Nor would I pay him any mind if he follows the dogs as they go about their day, patrolling the pickets or sprinting into a flurry of barks at the passing of some jogger beyond them. Why should I greet him? He seems more interested the patio’s dark tributaries of dog water spilled perhaps by me, perhaps by accident, than in forming a connection with one of the living. To me my older brother died a long time ago. Why does he linger on, like smoke in the kitchen, long after I’ve finished breakfast? Why does he push my captain’s chair back in after I have gone upstairs to take a shower?

New Member
Welcome to the world turned upside down, as you so eloquently put it, four weeks ago when you woke to something wrong to say the least. I, too, am GBM. Going on five years now, I wake today to the last of the snowmelt. The head of my shovel cradles clear water. Last night I dreamt of an experimental new therapy, leaned back in a swivel chair, baby bird agape, and waited for a single drop of clear liquid to be placed on my tongue. Before you woke, four weeks ago, you may not have considered death a real possibility. Now bruised arms and steroids are your reality. You feel weird because of the steroids. Your face is bloated and your heart burns despite the proton-pump inhibitors. Four weeks ago, I walked my year-old out into bright snow light. This morning I woke to the curbside’s last shrinking pile like a dead polar bear, oak leaves caught in its bedraggled fur.

Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press and third, Coming Home with Cancer belongs to Blue Lyra Press’s Delphi Poetry Series. He lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he manages Inklings’ FOURTH FRIDAYS READING SERIES with Eve Brackenbury. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.