Older Brother

May 12, 2011
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From here I see the old oak dining table
Cramped between two walls
Of where you now sleep.
A perfectly white, hand-stitched table cloth from Easter
Covered in the remains of candy wrappers
And littered with half-empty soda cans.
The broken light bulb of the lamp
Dimly sitting between a cluster of an 80 watt bouquet.
The spark gone, the electrical current cut
Since five years ago.

You are sitting at this table,
Hunched over the blinding computer screen,
One hand adjusting the microphone
And the other gripping the mouse,
Focusing on Minecraft and Skype.
The little icon next to your name
Is not the penguin I drew for you.
He is left, forgotten, in some save file
That I hope you might open again one day.

In the kitchen, grandma
Is barely limping over to the refrigerator.
Her old hands, wrinkled with age and years of labor
Are now putting two slices of ham between bread
That you will take to work.
You say a hasty goodbye to your friends,
Take the sandwich without saying a word,
And drive to the job
That somebody else had to find for you.

I know you’re thinking
About that unsent acceptance letter
From one of the colleges.
Any college, just one.
But do you remember
That evening spent outside,
Catching raindrops
In our mom’s best pots and pans?
These pots are now under the sink,
Their bottoms blackened from use,
Shoved in the darkness.
New stainless steel pans take their place,
Bought five years ago.

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