Monday, January 14, 2013

To the Siblings I Never Met

In case you ever wonder 
about the man who flicked you off
like a cigarette, about what you missed, 
I want to tell you he lived by strict rules: 
No touching, no conversation, a language
of snarls, mutterings, angry stares.
We constantly offended him. 

Oh, there was an occasional wisecrack or two, 
so amusing that raucous whooping sprung loose from my knots 
--laughter so unrestrained my mother thought I was screaming--
and there was a strawberry shortcake he baked in summer--
a delicious cloud of whipped cream on slopes
of pound cake mushy with fruit.
And there was that wink--a sudden impish entrapment
to call a truce, to pardon him with Freudian notions--
he too grew up forsaken--or simpler ones,
like, men are made for war.

But under crushing disregard, 
our brothers, above all, malfunctioned mightily.
He was their chief impeder and they his 
and though we're all old now and he long dead, 
his finger points with taut disdain at 
each of us, still squeamish, 
still tensed, still hoping, insanely, he’ll change.
That’s what we are heir to. 
It’s all that accrued to the children 
he didn't leave behind.