Dear Brother,

You came
from a
willingness to
believe that
any man is
good enough.
I come from
the willingness
to believe that
a baby can act
as glue. These
were
experiments
with mixed
results—here
we are. Half-
mother, half-
father. Half-
creature, half-
seraph. You
are a tooth
under my
scalp. You are
a bone buried
in my
skeleton.

Dear Brother,

I may have
another fifty
years to
believe in
something. I
may step off
the wrong
curb before I
hold you
again. I held
you when you
were the size
of a pan of
lasagna. I held
you when you
were the size
of a bag of
dirt. I held you
when you
were the size
of a bicycle.
You are the
size of a small
car. I will hold
part of you.

Dear Brother,

I’m sorry I
escaped
before we
could find out
what makes
the other
laugh. I knew
you before
you had feet.
When you
laugh I look
behind me.
When you
laugh I retrace
my steps. I
have a
blindered
version of you.
I must mortar
together the
parts. I must
tie you
together with
string.

Dear Brother,

You’ll have to
learn that it’s
not the horror
of war people
are interested
in. It’s how
worn their own
shoes are.
How large
their bodies
have become.
Whether or
not to watch
one more
episode.
People aren’t
like you—they
don’t remember
death the way
you do. Do
you think of
death still?

Dear Brother,

You met our
mother when
she was old. I
met our
mother when
she was a
child.

Dear Brother,

Our mother
wanted you so
badly that she
gave up
everything
else she
wanted. She
threw out
decades of
wishes. When
you arrived
and didn’t
know her, she
went
underground.
She turned
into a weepy
chimera, split
in two. We
know the
shape of her
hands. We
know the
backs of her
knees. We
know the
tangle of her
hair in the
drain. Our
mother gave
you to me.
She took you
back.

A.M. O'Malley

Born in Wisconsin, A.M. O’Malley now lives in Portland, OR, where she is the Executive Director of the Independent Publishing Resource Center and a teacher of writing and zine-making . Her own writing, in various forms, has appeared in Nailed Magazine, Poor Claudia, and The Burnside Review, among other publications . Her first full-length book of poems, Expecting Something Else, came out on University of Hell Press in 2016.

Cover image by Sarah Meadows

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