The American Poetry Review

TWO POEMS

Cain

my brother‘s keeper? at best i am biologically my brother’s brother. twenty some years ago i wasborn into a club he was already a member of. we were kid-roommates in a carpeted midwest atticin Ohio winter arrives late October unannounced with bags and stays through April. my brotherice king frost-bitten product of snow storms learned frigid from the four decembers he enduredbefore me. the day papa promised to give us a tv was the only time my brother intentionallysmiled in my direction. since we stopped sharing a room, our interactions are all exit strategieswhen he left the house at seventeen he did not say goodbye. i did not go running after him. onenight i hope to gather our wrinkled flesh around a bottle of whiskey older thanstories of what we’ve survived. for now is deflating me. indifference from a sibling isa fist to the lung. yesterday i had to look at a picture just to describe his appearance in a poemi’d bet my nose that his septum ring couldn’t prick me out of a lineup either. keep[er] is a strongword. i’m barely keep[in] it together when i see my friends smiling in pictures with their brothersi’m hardly keep[in] a lid on the fear that my children’s first question will be about their uncleand i will direct them to a photo album with more estimations than pictures. denial is a hell of ablade. peter turned his back on jesus three times and it killed him. and they weren’t even relatedgranted jesus came back to life shortly after, but we don’t all have fathers with that kind of pull.

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