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It’s a sound so deep and wide and close by,
far away and annoying and sweet,
indistinct and ethereal and ceaseless—
my nine-year-old brother’s singing toy caterpillar
in a backseat
on a black night of shining seatbelts.
It’s coming, tinkling down reality,
ten hours on the road.
The sky is turning. The earth is churning.
Time is like the batteries in the toy caterpillar—
growing fainter and dying.
There’s a fireball sun above the Ohio River,
filling up the sky with water vapor and loneliness.
Huddled against me, sleeping,
like a rock in troubled waters, lies my brother.
The hills, the Wee-Sing Hills,
sweep us like music up and down a staff.
When he has drunk up too many juice boxes,
let him outside to throw up.
When Mother is lost on the winding road,
cry out to God.
And the years I spent staring out car windows
at the black drum of night,
they’ve all dissolved, like Crystal Lite tea powder into water.
What name do you put to the starry feeling of night travel?
What words can you use to describe traveling with brothers?
Now we all have junk rooms inside us.
They’re full of decaying action figures,
yellow magazines, and cat-soiled fabric.
We lock and bolt those doors,
press our back against them.
Nobody can come in.
Uncertainty and mystery and purposelessness
can drive you harder than knowing all the answers.
There’s a tide in you, deep inside of you.
Alive and singing,
hot as an oven, a dolphin and a shark,
a spirit meant for eternity
and begging for release, for peace.
Look around you at the misty river,
and run with the children down the bank.
The jar of laughing is never filled up.
The sky can sing you a lullaby,
if you lay down and let it.