Two Brothers

Will we ever get away from it,
the words unsaid when loyalty is called for,
the bare loss of breath when doubled over
or the skin ticking past the darkened doorway?
An outthrust arm which grabs the shell in sand,
the stone uncovered that will fill the hand.

The grinding wrongs, capricious, arbitrary.
One favored, one denied by sleight of tongue.
And Abel always with a sideways glance,
smug even in his fear, rocks back upon his heels
from the fist. Brother mine, stand up! Don't spoil
the game we know so well with all your drama.

I could not know you unless we were at odds.
The flash of flint, the friction felt, our small explosions.
Our sandpaper selves will wear each other smooth.
If I had met you in a distant archipelago,
we would have fought at first, no words exchanged,
no quarter given nor expected from a higher code.

Someone asked me once if we were related.
He saw a marked resemblance in the eyes,
the line of jaw, the curl of lip, the coldness
in the smile. "Distantly," I said, but knew
that in the geometric radius of life, you are
the angle without which I'm incomplete.

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