April 1, 2017 orangeq2017

For My Brother on His Sixteenth Birthday

Stevie Edwards


I am burning my brother on a rooftop
in September. He doesn’t protest much,
never screams. I tell him something had to give
and it couldn’t be me this time.

I tell him he’s dust to me and sweep his ashes
off the ledge. He keeps coming back
a boy and says it’ll be okay. He points to the sky
like something’s there. I tell him it’s gone.

I tell him anyone can be born, I was
born yellowed by an unready liver.
He says it’s his birthday, so I give him
a beer and he pretends to like it.

He looks like he wants chocolate cake,
so I give him another beer. He says
he’s had enough, so I give him
a cigarette. And he takes it.

He tells me he’s cold. I tell him I held him
as much as anyone could as a baby,
supported his needy neck in terror. He asks
for chocolate cake. He points to the sky.

He tells me he’s cold. I press my lighter
to his sleeves and tell him it’ll be
okay, hug him until we’re both charred
and warm. He tells me it’s gone.


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