To My Brother I
I can see where you’re headed
from my position out on the bleachers,
the way the ball shifts from black
to white in its spinning rotation-
the way the boys fall behind
in your every sprinting step,
and you turn their cheeks to roses
the way the sun turns the seasons
but the field’s blowing a bitter wind
from where I’m sitting, the way you twist
ankles with the assistant coach during
practice drills, the way your skill improves,
the way he carries you on his shoulders
after every winning game.
Do you call him brother?
Banging steel resonates isolated
in a midnight gym as I add
five more pounds to a second set,
pressing repetitions into every
beading laceration of effort.
The shred muscle tissue
is like the gap between your sports,
and my artistic stage;
but I always read responsibility
like a script when I was around you,
and I find myself wondering
if there was ever a line about love
that I was meant to have spoken
into the audience of your little heart?
Sarah’s Triptych: Moon
He’s the river to her quiet evening,
two feet dipped in water,
little waves splashing along the docks
to a boy in a small cap, head turned to the sky
with eyes reflecting in the moon beams.
His boat bumps against the dock
to a beat, all the worn hymns
from his father’s memory come back to him
finishing the knot in his nylon rope.
His lantern’s lost its oil, the wind blows
as the candle’s smoke makes its shapes.
The home’s azure tonight, just
at the other end of the yard-
white panes, blackened inside.
Coming from that back door
her feet bend blades between the grass,
padded noises followed by wood in waterlog
as she takes her place beside him singing:
A boy is grown by rivers,
travl’ing day by day,
one day he’s sure to become a man-
look at the mile he’s made.
“My oil has always belonged to you”,
she says, filling his lantern. Her home’s
chimney puffs its choking puff
as she sees him into the boat,
sees off the dock, sees him travel further
down that winding river, and sees him traveling
to the end of that river
and back again.
Adolescence was the first thing they stole away,
but they fed me a different kind of youth-
something like a living anesthesia
that became the hallways of my new dorm house,
those sweating white walls
locking my eyes to the ceiling on nights
when my own stomach lulled me to sleep,
and the thought of luxury crawled to my bedside
like a child, and showed me the image of a woman:
money in the form of a velvet lady,
moving casually as she goes,
swaying her hips before Dante,
her dark hair sharp in the winter
that she carries along with her,
eyebrows cocked as if to say
I want you to look for me in the garden,
I want you to suck the venom from my veins.
She is here in the room with me
as I write these lines,
stroking the pen as I go, a presence that
fills the quiet space between my roommate and
the dollar dinners resting on the table
by the tail end of her nightgown,
her crimson voice whispering to the page,
seducing the poetry that gives her life.