My brother was the cowboy,
I the Indian. Stumping his
Stick horse in crazy zigzags
He dug up dirt. Once I stabbed
The ground with my knife.
Nicked his ear.
He grew industrious, mowed the lawn
In neat squares, uprooted weeds–wild-
Flowers–built a plywood fort
Under a weathered oak whose branches
I climbed to watch, silent, dead-still.
Papa smiled and patted his burr cut
And called him a diligent boy.
I drew a circle around myself,
Let hair grow down my neck,
And worshiped round wet stones.
Navigating woods by smell of fog,
Watching street lights on the river,
Testing my breath on walks that winter,
I was sure the dead would return.
Shadow that ran across our lawn
And lost itself in the sunset:
I knew it was my mother.
“Just the light,” said my brother.
Drawing his cap gun, he aimed
Straight for the heart.