Michael Marberry


Final Fantasy VII

I know that I cannot save you.

I cannot save you, though I have

the necessities: a phoenix

down in my pocket, the new life

a green materia can give

like regret. I cannot save you,

though I have done so already

too many times to remember.

You were here; you weren’t here at all:

a small stone falling from your hair

like a plot-device for manhood.

You were the heaviest flower

I left to sink in still waters.

How many years must we carry

this sadness you sent all my friends

in passing? What hope did we have

to recover, awkward as tongues?

So like the great men we were taught

to be, we returned to slaughter—

sometimes forgetting what was good.


We never appear together:

always one, always the other
distinct as an alter ego.

I was never good at playing
brother—preferring solitude,

prone to sudden turns of distance
like an antipode. I can’t say

if you deserved more; I don’t know
if you hate me. I remember

your birth a green light: suddenly
everything flag-bright and blooming.

(The future’s bleaker than boss-fights.)

I’ve known you all your life and now
how many years since we’ve spoken?

We pass each other like two ghosts
in a castle searching for coins—

stopping sometimes to consider
the stars, the shells of our childhood

home: a shadow in the corner,
the face we vaguely recognize.

Michael Marberry is the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals like The Believer, The New Republic, DIAGRAM, West Branch, Waxwing, and elsewhere and in anthologies like The Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best of the Net. He is originally from rural Tennessee. More of his work can be found at http://www.michaelmarberry.com.