Saturday, April 17, 2010
They had decided—only three. So if the second
hadn't refused, hadn't come undone and bled
its way out of my mother, I wouldn't be alive.
I suppose I should be thankful.
My brother was the third, the charmed one,
born with a slip of beauty as if in compensation
for having followed through. Since I was the last,
I got the hand-me-downs—a few good bones,
the lanky shadow—the makings
of a shabby reproduction. His eyes were dark,
kohl-black; mine were ash-gray, evidence
of something scorched, burnt down—but what
my brother had been given didn't matter:
it seemed he couldn't get enough
of death—after all, he'd followed just behind it,
he knew its raw, wet scent, how cold it was,
how perfect. As children we took baths together;
sitting in the lukewarm water, he'd lean his head
against the tub's cool porcelain, slide down
until the water rinsed his ears, his bottom lip
between his teeth, eyes closed. I pressed my hand
against his chest, held still and waited for the heart
to pause, the churn of blood to turn to silence.
He was playing dead. He called it practicing.
Posted by Ward Shortridge at 10:50 PM