My brother doesn’t remember all of it
and I don’t either. Between us
most of that day is lost. What he
remembers is me holding his hand
as the doctor stitched his finger,
the sutures going in and disappearing
beneath his skin, the bright needle
popping up again, trailing its black thread.
I remember even less. So little in fact
that I often wonder if I was really
there at all, except in his memory
which has now become mine.
He says he wasn’t scared because
I was there, though why I was there
neither of us can remember.
You were though, he says, and each year
I sit with him on the couch he is older
and I think no matter how old he gets
he will always be younger than me.
What’s between us in our childhood:
a trashcan lid he used as a shield,
the broom handle a spear, and still
his knees were embedded with gravel,
his lip bloodied, one eye almost
blinded by a thrown berry, his arm
broken in two places. And though
he could not keep our father from us,
as I could not have kept him from
his fear, when he insists I did
I believe him, and Belief sits down
on the couch between us
like a cousin to truth.
DORIANNE LAUX’s most recent collection is Only As The Day Is Long: New and Selected, W.W. Norton. She is also author of The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize and Facts about the Moon, winner of the Oregon Book Award. She teaches poetry at North Carolina State and Pacific University.