‘Brother’ and other poems
By: Kyle Singh
You weren’t yourself or really yet slouched over,
just a little lost for words, your unwashed face caught
within a small amount of doubt, which turned you
back into a man, someone– I guess– with wisdom.
I never quite got to know you, but I knew we would always
be interlocked, even in my dreams– or was it just hallucination–
It was almost as if we were trying to meet again
in the park hidden behind a dead end, broken swing sets,
sand always emptied out of the sandbox: that was the story
of why I chose to call, but even though we are siblings
I was shocked into the idea that we were symbiotic,
the physical stature of your posture: right beside me,
unshaven and stubbled, distant and still reciprocal.
Why is it so difficult, with you right next to me,
to feel like you’d rescue me from a burning building?
Why does your smile look so different from when
my hand touched your forehead as children? When I
saw you resign, reliable filled with warmth, it was clear
why we chose to travel across state lines, clarity of the bond
– two broken in mitts– we knew not to embrace.
Forgive me. You came back when I asked you to leave,
so I could speak to you without forgetting that this back
and forth is a kind of shimmering. You will always be younger,
and still your forehead gleams. Run your car over the glove;
break it in.
My adopted aunty–you know, the kind that calls you her son
Assails my genetics. And that grin she wears now might
Be her passing lives. The future that dispenses and dispenses
Within us. That binds us and binds us and moves us and
Moves us. She goes for a walk with me on the trails,
And stares. Once, a girl who spent one year on the summit
Of an unnamed mountain. A stubborn girl. Jet black hair.
I would’ve wanted to be around her all the time. She, my
Guide, and I would walk above a stretch of ruts. When she stopped
I stopped. From time to time she would ask unanswerable questions,
“How many miracles have you seen in the last five days?”
I’d always answer with another question:
You’ve heard the myth of the tin can? The metal
Which could speak of the stamp embossed in its frame
Could yield each description of how it started as a single
Scaffolding, how sharp it felt to be bent into a cylinder
Sanded down to the sparks, forged. The myth
Was whether or not the can jumped off the line
When it saw thousands like itself, assembled and filled
With minestrone soup. I explain to aunty that my favorite
Assignment in second grade was when I was asked to
“Describe the process of an object being made…”
“Yes, I did feel rockness”, she said.
“And I regressed to rock in my last life”, she said,
a sage in her nineties. My first idea
Of how to live in the world came from those
Who have learned to deal with it; who have made
From their lives, a series of things.
Apple Not Apple
Across the desolate hill and its abandoned orchards,
where loam and rock were untouched, were two thick
stakes carrying a plaque which told the group of parents and guardians,
huddled around the only sign of humanity like fire ants, that the great
man himself and his caravan of rough riders forged each trail
and trimmed each juniper, preserved sagamore hill in oyster bay cove.
Each gasps at the thought of someone gripped by the mania of courage,
or was it insanity, to cut loose the shackles of land uninformed that a raucous
of cowhide and sounds of a shotgun were the marks of civilization.
One girl, the don of the gang of kids, scurries as Roosevelt
and the rest follow with an orchestra of mimicry; hurling
lassos with elbows, each carried becalming yet serious stares
and instantly there appeared to be wrinkles on petite marbled cheeks.
When they move together it’s like the land is uncharted again so that somehow
it restores itself, as they hush each other through the whispers, descend as they
fast walked down the hill, the orchard poked through a crevice in the fog.
Immediately like spider crickets each obtained haunches and the entire group
lept above the high grass where ticks were set to latch.
Three apple trees, craters in all the fruit, divoted, not deep red but almost
green as if they became another kind of edible, none left on the branches, none
ripened to their full potential, they considered the fact that they had found treasure
and howl like the san juan artillery, a mad dash to the fruit, tiny teeth gnawed
into the cores, simultaneous crunch, a relaxation in satisfaction, they rejoiced in the fact
that they had found a New York apple, not macintosh or fuji, but a Long Island apple,
not a pear or a plum, but an apple. Even though they were tart as a warhead and the group
collectively spit out each bite unable to swallow, they grabbed another and another as if
they were half-lidded pendants, they thrummed and bellowed and danced in circles.
Haegel did not use aufheben to mean abolish or preserve but to transcend.
A slight shuffling of the gravel and they huddle, the enemy appeared equipped
with mini purell bottles and became an stampede of antelopes to a herd of lions,
they retreated yet one by one they fell, one grabbed by the torso, the other
slowly lumbered in his shyness, another sat right there in his place in the mud.
Surely, the path to Eden is an array of movements and turnings backwards.
Surely, those apples, barely reminiscent of their namesake, meant that those kids could rise.
How the don tumbled back up the hill on her mother with both arms stretched out flailing.
How iridescent became coolness as the breeze carefully ruffled her hair.