Dear Brother

Poem by Justin Thomas. This Poem was published in the Spring 2016 Wabash Review


Do you remember when
mom was in school—
hours away in
Springfield? We lived with
grandma. I was the
younger brother, so you
got the top bunk. Do you
remember when you got
the Red Power Ranger
toy for your ninth
birthday? I wanted to play
with it, but I would always
break everything. You
wouldn’t let me anywhere
near the object. Do you
remember when mom
came back, and we met
Bill? Neither of us wanted
to move in with them. He
wasn’t our father, and
mom didn’t feel like our
mother. Do you
remember when I was
nine years old? I finally
beat you in basketball.
Do you remember what
happened after I won?
You chased me around
the yard, held me down,
and spit on me. I came
down with a terrible cold
a few days later. You
claimed it was unrelated.

Do you remember how
you used to smoke weed
freshman year of high
school? I’m sure you do. I
wanted to be just like
you. I lied and told my
friends that I smoked
weed too. Do you
remember when my
school called our house
to tell what I have been
telling? Mom and Bill
knew it was a lie, but they
knew who was smoking.
And… and I’m sorry that I
brought that all upon you.

I know that you certainly
remember what
happened after that. I
remember clearly. I wish
we would have stayed
with grandma and
grandpa, but we had no
way of knowing… how
Bill would handle these
situations. I wish I could
ask you what you
remember of me after
this, but your memories
of me came to an end—
even when my memories
of you continued.

I remember coming home
from school on the bus.
You didn’t ride the bus.
You would get a ride
home with your friends. I
remember how sunny of
a day it was. It was one
of the most beautiful days
we had had in a long
while. You usually would
play basketball with your
friends out front on a day
like that day, but none of
you were there. I
remember looking around
the house for you. Your
book bag was on your
bed and your shoes were
tripping over each other
on the floor. I remember
how dark the basement
was. I remember that I
was always scared of that
basement. You were
hanging in that
basement. Hanging from
your neck. I remember I
couldn’t help but laugh.
The basement had one
window. One window that
light could come through.
You chose to hang
yourself right in front of
that window. The sunlight
outlined your body. You
were glowing. You shined
so bright that I stood
there in awe.