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Wrestling With My Brother


ISSUE:  Autumn 1994
Michael, given the name of an archangel,
the son our parents could not have,
you shared your adopted life with me.
In Grandma’s Virginia we rode horses reckless,
bareback, through the fields like hounds,
calling to the early moon.
After dark, we climbed a pear tree
to reach through the night, hug the moon.
On cold ground around a fire you built
you captured me with confusing stories
of mice with wings flying into everything.
You convinced me the owl used
our marbles for his eyes.
Before I grew breasts, you wrestled me
to the ground, held me down as my face grew hot.
You taught me how to do the twist
to Chubby Checkers howling “shake it up baby.”
I was all your little sis and planned
to marry you when I grew up.

But they never believed you—
you said you saw a fly sitting on the nose of the deer in the
  far field.
Father could not stop beating you into truth.
After the night he took you out to the shed
and cracked a board against your backside
like a dog he’d break in,
you stuck out your thumb,
made it to Florida. All those people
and you picked up for vagrancy.
No glory left, you joined the army.
Nights, I shiver in our pear tree and call to you:
Lost brother, lost brother, lost.

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