He arrived five days before my first birthday
so I learned to share early. Mama said I was
Friday’s child loving and giving.
As toddlers we slept in a double bed.
He drew an imaginary line and warned,
“Don’t cross it.”
At camp, I spent my allowance carefully
so on the bus ride home I’d have a treat.
The lady at the snack window said,
“Sorry your brother used up your money.”
I was a spelling bee whiz,
he was dyslexic.
Every lunch hour, Mama played a record
and we’d hear, “A-Apple B-Banana,”
but phonics escaped him.
Most teachers called me into his class
to take home notes to my mother.
He dropped out of school,
related to the Hippie movement,
experimented with drugs, tried LSD,
and stayed with marijuana.
He was Monday’s child, fair of face.
When he walked into a crowded room,
someone said, “He’s beautiful.
With that beard he looks like Jesus.”
He surpassed me reading Philosophy,
hated to hear about the imbalance
of power in the world.
Football players and Johnny Carson
making millions made him go into a tirade.
He could’ve out-talked the radio hosts.
Now he lives at a shelter, and called me to say
he contracted HIV from a lady he’d been with.
I’m horrified thinking she probably tricked him,
but he says,
“No, we were just two lonely people
out drinking, who need a warm body to feel close.”
Previously published: Westview:A Journal of Western Oklahoma
and Why I Miss New Jersey