To My Brother On His Birthday
I remember the day you graduated from high school. Standing tall in your crimson robes and squared hat, beaming, you were a sunrise, red and yellow, filled with promise and potential. That day the skies were dark but you were radiant, beaming confident, like a small sun.
Later, I sat through other graduations. And I wondered from my place in the crowd: When did he become a man? When did he stop carrying around that old stuffed animal, when did he trade in his strawberry curls for a brush-cut, when did he get muscles, all those hard lines and edges?
I want you to know that I remember everything about our childhood: each game we played, how you always won because I was impatient, craved action, and never developed any strategy. You giggled when I was a sore loser and tossed the game pieces into the air.
I remember your wrestling stage, the time you pushed me on my stomach, sat on my back, and pulled my legs up towards my head.
“Say mercy!” you shouted, but you let me go when you realized I really couldn’t breathe.
I remember when you saved me from the boy from around the block who came asking to play Caveman and who, without even proposing, made me his wife and dragged me half across the lawn by my hair, kicking and screaming. You were a lion that day, protective and angry. Red-faced, you shouted, “Don’t you ever touch my sister again. Don’t you ever touch her.”
With one swipe of your seven-year old paw, it was clear.
I was older, but you were something else.
You always were.
They just didn’t know it yet.
We share secrets, and our silences sometimes go long.
I want you to know I remember you crossing the stage that day in your red robes. Facing the future fearlessly, you are there.
Contemplating a sharp September sunrise, I am thinking of you.
Happy b’day Bro. I hope you played some tennis.