If I had a brother, I’d call him tonight. His mouth
would press into a smile over the distance
that’s no distance. He’d drawl, “Hey,” his voice
soft as his beard, his flannel shirt, as his wife
rolls her eyes at the nickname only he calls me.
My brother wouldn’t shoot deer or pheasants
with dad, only clay pigeons, wouldn’t stress
if the neighbor men called him sissy or worse. He’d shrug
the shrug of men who don’t care what others think.
I’d have learned earlier to ignore mean folks.
My brother would have calmed the house. The dogs
would have gentled upon scenting him. Maybe my father
would’ve been happier to have another male around;
they’d have teased my mother, like boys do, made her
laugh more, blunted the sharp branches of our family tree.
I’ll take my brother to the new path,
maple-lined on both sides, where treetops touch,
form a covered bridge. We’ll marvel at the leaf prints,
rain stamped in the concrete beneath our feet, that seem to reach
for us like little hands.
I know he’ll come with me
because this is my dream and I know my brother.
He follows an internal compass
and teaches me the secrets of the deep woods
of men so that I’m no longer afraid.