James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and fifty times and has been recognized with many awards. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was granted a writing fellowship to Oxford University. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019. He was shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award 2021 for his poetry. Two of his novels were Finalists for the United Kingdom’s Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

Brother Mike

You rarely speak your feelings,
silent, perceptive, and broody.
When we were children, we knelt
after Communion, the smells
of cold stone, incense, and shellac
surrounded us. What did you pray for?

Years later, you drove me from the airport.
I told you about a sick friend.
There was sadness in your profile
and you crossed yourself.
We continued onward through the traffic.

But the moment had stilled me.
I felt a bit of awe or was it
what we call the sacred?
I understood church and why we knelt.
I heard the loudness of your silence,
the words of your prayer,
and the creed in your gesture.

I think I understood you more
and felt our Communion,
together and again.