Iron Dog

Mark Bulwinkle


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Home wasn’t safe. I learned to freeze my tears
Before they spilled, and stow my fears away
Behind half-lidded eyes. I lived in darkness,
Accepting that when Dad demanded silence
I would stay still. You chose a different road.
I’m left to mourn my stubborn older brother.

You swore you wished you’d never had a brother,
Screaming at me when Dad left you in tears.
Eventually I’d trail you down the road,
Kicking at pebbles, searching for a way
To win you back. I starved within your silence;
I needed you because you shared my darkness.

But you were not content to hide in darkness
And did not listen to your younger brother.
I hated that you wouldn’t heed Dad’s silence;
Your screams shook me, as did your storms of tears.
You swore so often that you’d run away
I feared you’d die, helpless, on a cold road.

I see you on your skateboard, how you rode
Heedless of gravity. You flew through darkness,
Leaping, often tumbling, dancing away
From rules and caution. You found cooler brothers,
Boys with skull rings, some with tattoos of tears,
Who mocked our dad’s suburban cave of silence.

For a brief time, with them, you broke your silence,
Flipping off cars as you flew down the road.
But then you came home bleeding, sick with tears,
And pummeled me, as if I were the darkness.
Dad heard me screaming at my older brother
And came for you. You didn’t turn away.

The night you took Mom’s keys and drove away,
I hated you for leaving me in silence.
I didn’t know that I would lose my brother
To rage and alcohol and a lake road
Where rain beat down like tears of the gods in darkness.
But here, tonight, as I stare through my tears,

I’m with you on that road that leads away
From icy tears, the path to final silence,
My brother, driving wildly in the darkness.