This is What You Have Been Waiting For

The Gate
by Marie Howe, from What the Living Do

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world
would be the space my brother’s body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man
but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,
rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.
This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I’d say, What?
And he’d say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I’d say, What?
And he’d say, This, sort of looking around.


See also:

  • "The Poetry of Ordinary Time," On Being, April 25, 2013
  • Howe, M. (2008). The kingdom of ordinary time. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. (library)
  • Howe, M. (1998). What the living do: Poems. New York: W.W. Norton. (library)
  • Howe, M. (1988). The good thief. New York: Persea Books. (library)