My brothers and I on the sunny side, in the road,
damping stubs, stamping out matches, more
frightened of mice than of men. My brothers
leave me the cleaning. They're tall and don't offer.
"How could we?" they'd ask. "We're tall, but
you're older." Which may be why we never left.
We live within miles of the hospital and mother
we were born in and out of. We don't go back
here many generations. The ties that bind us are
recent. Take these wandering chestnuts, distantly
related through Morganetta, a cousin from the
Congo, first of her kind to kick the amniotic
cocktail and give up licking salt in all night caves
of Kitum. She founded a colony in Western
New England—woke one morning ankle chained
to a concrete slab. We dream meek dreams but
we're better off than she is, better than these
poached and luckless wonders. We might've
helped one another. Like Masons. Like the Mafia.
"Sure, you're only two years older," the middle
one says, "but you're not much shorter." He has
two daughters, and custody. The other, being
taller, drags ribs to the yard to file by weight,
or maybe volume, we don't ask, we only continue,
slow with the task of removal, our cheeks full
of secrets, and our trunks' firm grasp on remains.
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