My brother hugs close to the edge of life.
Bobby and I were born and Bobby died
and my only living brother calls me now
to tell me his prostate must be removed
or his body will live on the kidney
dialysis machine . . . or he may die.
I am ten years older than my brother.
Bobby was born and died two years before
I was born. World War Two was over then.
My brother, not me, was in Vietnam.
I did what I could to stop the war there;
worked full time in a university,
had a football knee that spared me the draft,
went South to immerse myself in the hell
anyone would suffer if he or she
were black, their home a little east of mine.
That way I followed the lead of fighters
whose tongues were loaded with endless supply
of talk or silence depending on death’s
proximity, helping each other through
and beyond to Berkeley, Columbia,
Kent State, Jackson State, following the turns
down the highway leading to the devil
frozen in the ice of the river Styx.
Keep a coin handy for the ferryman,
brother. One for each eye, so you don’t see
where you are going until you get there.
(14 November 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander