I wish / I could disinherit this grief
April 18, 2023
Acadia National Park | Maine | June 2021
You keep a distance of a small child away from me
at all times. For the first time in my life, I cry
to Baba about you. This year I wore my body
like an ill-fitting coat, took each day
like a shot of Chinese medicine. You stood in the corridor,
my ghost-brother, my vicarious boyhood. Before
last March, we visited the first home we remember.
The trailer classroom, geoded garage windows,
feral dog. You were six when you kissed a girl under that
dream-red slide and told me you’d run away
together. I said I didn’t care, then bit off all my fingernails.
I blinked and here summer is and here you are:
newborns spitting on my sweater. Maine is honeycomb-lush,
sister-like-forgiving. In our motel room, I have two dreams:
one where I am dying and the other where everything is
a bloodless red but I know you are next to me. I think of how
I would want you to apologize. I pretend that my spine is
a learning curve, that forgiving is as easy as falling. I hate
how a nine-month-old baby was conditioned to fear rats
for the sake of behavioral psychology, or how Genie’s abuse
led to a breakthrough in language development. I wish
I could disinherit this grief, or at least bequeath you
with enough to feel it. But what is the point of apology when
a critical period passes, when the newborn is not yours
to bring home. Outside, a white family grills chicken and you smell
their smoke while sleeping. You storm out, shut
all the windows, and swim back into bed. I lay
on my side, watchful, rotting.
An experiment complete and statistically insignificant.