Home of Rhett & Link fans - the Mythical Beasts!
Written in 2009.
He only appeared at Thanksgivings,
lanky in the doorway
where the evening humidity
spread thickly across the diamond glass
and cast shadows from his feet.
His stiff arms turned down the embraces of family – distant
in his blood and thoughts, removed from his interest –
and nodded faintly at his parents,
his father with cigarettes and bottles in his hands,
his mother with her blasé voice and eyes.
He held fast to the fists in his pockets
as the grandparents marveled at his increasing height,
patted him on the back beneath rigid shoulder blades.
He and I were related less through the legality of ties
and more through the emptiness of space
as we each settled in corners as if pressed by repellant forces,
and I knew him without being close or familiar
when I sat on the staircase before dinner,
glancing through the barrier of rail supports
at the other cousins playing pool – rowdy, together,
a confident gathering of closeness I couldn’t force myself into.
I watched him at dinner when he lost half-hearted smiles
into his plate of potatoes and pressed his hands deep against his legs,
the stitch of denim weaving into his fingertips.
The breath of conversations fluttered his pale hair
without reaching his ears,
without affecting the up-down mechanism of his jaw.
I knew him after dinner, too,
when satisfaction settled everyone into chairs
and I was on the staircase again
as the fathers watched football in a communion of groans.
I rested in a solitude of silence amid the noise
of riotous relatives appreciating their own humor,
and he sat detached in the computer room with war games
flashing a mayhem of lights into his eyes.
From the other side of the wall, I heard the explosions
and imagined him frowning at the screen
the way I frowned at the steps,
the two of us separated by sheetrock and a force inside our skins
that pushed in all directions, keeping even our relativity
from closing the gaps.