Caleb Braun


There’s a language inside my mother
I’ve never quite learned,

only bits of children’s rhymes
something like allueta allueta.

And through the wall in the mornings
sometimes I would hear her reading

her bible with her give me this day
as though she were whispering

to the open palms of god.
And in the evenings as the sun

raked the grass at the edge
of the world, she’d take

her bike through the trees and up
the hill and say au revoir, skyline,

until one night it rained.
For years it rained.

The world pooled itself. The artificial
light of a hospital which never sets.

And I mean it was sudden
as rain and she never

rode her bike again
and hardly spoke.


In all the old pictures
I’m a young Puritan.
Like my father, I pose
with my head held down,

my face turned shyly away,
knowing this is piety’s posture.
What I miss most about that
faith is the stiffness of the collar:

a simple no for everything
attractive, the blessed angle
of my chin. I didn’t yet know
how silence becomes fixed in film.

I didn’t yet know my father
would die of his own constraint,
the aperture of his vessels
narrowing to their close.

Yet, I still look for him, here
in this darkroom where I find
only this waiting
for my father to burst through

the door in brilliant light,
only this printed face
slowly resolving
in the chemical bath.


Caleb Braun is an MA student in poetry and a Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. His work has appeared in Gulf Stream and forthcoming in Harpur Palate.