Your brother had his throat cut,
one night in
No one was surprised, except
that it took so long. It was
practically natural causes, although
they couldn’t write that down.
He built hatred, your brother,
every day that he’d been alive.
You were there for most of it,
and had to pay that freight.
What he brought out in you,
nearly killed you, like William,
that night he “fell” out of the car,
Only your drunkenness kept them
from calling it murder. “Manslaughter,”
they ruled, as if a kinder word.
You served the time together and no one ever knew
what really happened. It stayed in the car. The truth
sending out a whispered story to take its place, always
the next thing mentioned after the loud razor fights,
that sent your kids scurrying under the beds.
Was it the night he left you on the train tracks
and you were only saved by being passed out
cold and loose, when the train bumped you off?
Maybe it was all these things, and others
you never told, just knowing what he was
as only a bastard’s brother ever could,
or knowing what you were. Standing next to him,
lit that ember bright, the one you tried to dim.
You distanced yourself, fixed your lawnmowers,
carved figures out of peach pits, embraced
the sweeter part of your disposition,
that part that always knew how lost you were.
Maybe the drinking saved you, cooling that glow
for those decades, or maybe it finally killed you.
Maybe there’s less difference than I’d like.