Remember how my shadow came
that day and swallowed all the horseflies
up that were biting the livin’ bejesus out of
you, and hollerin’ for Ma like a banjo
hankerin’ for new strings I picked your
wailing baby-butt up and carried
you all the way back up that hill and
set you down on the porch steps, kickin’
and screamin’ and all that. You punched
me in the nose and I held your little hands
and told you to shush on down so I could
lather you in some lotion that I swore to
you wouldn’t hurt, and you trusted me and
I put it on ya and it was jesus painful I know
and I felt bad not cause I knew it hurt so
much but because you had trusted me.
I remember the first time you used the term
“rutted” in front of me. I got so mad I
made a racket that rivaled the Old Testament
God and made you sweep the walk for o’re
six hours even though I knew it was
only a few minutes work,
and your scowl was like a basset hound,
your eyes red like sour apples and saggin’
low, and that pout you made made me certain
you’d think twice before usin’ that filth again.
But it didn’t. You used it the next day and
the next and the next, defyin’ the woman who
lorded o’re you and you made damn sure
I knew that you’d rather have a switch on
your rear from Da then let me have a
second thinkin’ I’d won.
I remember that morning I broke up with my
first girl. It was bad enough that everyone
said I was destined for damnation as it was but
when she left squealing wheels and leaving
her black rubber ire all over my face I locked
myself in my room for three days and not a soul
could get me out. Not one. I heard your
jinglin’ keys from down the hall and the
heavy creak from your boot on the
floorboard just bout a foot from my
bedroom door, and you did that thing you do
were you knock but then immediately come in
and I always make a fit about why the heck
you even bother knockin’ if you’re just
gonna come right on in. You had in your
now big, broad, rough hand a mug of cider
and a huge slab of chocolate you had
bought from the gas station ten miles away
and you sat on my bed and held my hands
and I wailed my grief out. You shushed me.
You said it wouldn’t hurt forever.
I believed you. That’s why you’re better than me.
You didn’t lie.