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Cleaning


ISSUE:  Fall 2018

 

Sorting through the chest’s junk, I happened
on this picture of him, a stranger I lived with 
month-to-month while I looked for something

cheaper. He lost his arm at seven when 
his brother made him climb a telephone pole 
and touch the live wire. The fall should’ve

killed me, he said, but I landed in a garden bed 
our neighbor had recently turned. I had to relearn 
how to write, how to draw, how to throw a ball.

Late at night we’d talk about our brothers, 
how hard it was to forgive. He loved bragging 
about the amount he could handle: make a call,

pound a burger, and drive stick shift all at once. 
When we juggled clubs he’d tease me for using two 
hands but we both knew we needed three

to make the pattern work. I don’t know where 
he is now, or what he does, or if he’s in touch 
with his brother. In the photograph he’s jammed

himself into the small gap between the mirror 
and the clawfoot tub. Eyes shut, smirking, he lifts
his palm into the air which perfectly doubles

its reflection so he looks like a priest offering 
benediction. I don’t remember taking it, 
but someone did, and I was the only one there.

 

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