There’s an overgrown path there, at our old house,
down by the old creek. It runs from the water
up the steep hill, through the thick, dark woods.
It’s a good path, the kind you can walk on
without taking anything from the earth.
We would sled down it, my brothers and me,
until our calves hurt from steering the
runners. When my little brother broke his leg
on a tree, we carried him over the ravine
and up the long hill. It was late when we reached the house.
He cried and twisted and turned all night. His writhing
rocked the bunk bed; I yelled at him, “Stop!” “Grow up.”
My dad came in to quiet us down. “In the morning,”
he said, “We’ll go when it’s morning.”
Tonight my brother gets high and crawls into the doghouse.
He stays warm in there sometimes, smoking. My dad
comes out to say gently, “Come in, son, please come inside.
There’s food waiting. And your family, who loves you.”
The sliding door closes and my brother stretches out
his legs. He peels the labels from his beers, pets his dog
with a tenderness he shows no one else. He kisses
her mouth, passes out on the soft, must-soaked
cushions. “In the morning,” he’ll say to himself,
“in the morning.” We will watch him from inside.