A Brother Is
by Nancy Huggett
A brother is to love. A brother is to hold, enfold in newly sistered arms. To dress up, to stroller push around the block, to make laugh and clap with pure delight at circus acts and puppet shows. A brother is to soothe and shush with lullabies when adults clink cut-crystal glasses and bedtime ends the day.
A brother is to love. To tie tightly, safely on a rope and lower out the back bedroom window to assess the escape theory with fellow detective/lady thief/adventurer/best friend Basia. A brother is to test the best paper airplanes, concoct costumes, plot treasure hunts, tell horror stories in the night and lead quietly into the furnace room where the monster lives, but always be there to hold his hand.
A brother is to wonder at the gift of hanging upside down in trees for hours, yards above adult reach to escape the sudden shock of school. Is to watch while his tender fingers fix the fracture in a wing and feed a house finch back to flight. A brother is to lead you down paths of loving that have no answer for disconnection, for truant travels to the mountain and wandering among the trees and shadows. A brother shows you slant an escape hatch from a world that can’t quite pin him and him with no longing to be pinned.
A brother is to love.
A brother is to stand in a woodland clearing offering poison berries in your outstretched palm after a recitatif of suicide threats that only manifests in broken bonds and a hostage kind of love. A brother is to hold tight while he rages in the field one night determined to burn the whole place down and know that your holding cannot fix him, and suddenly you are fine with that. Still thick with love that is expanding to fill the fix-it places in your mind. A brother is to save from jail, to mortgage joy for a little boy remembered.
A brother is to watch through binoculars from the beach while he paddles at the outer edge in search of danger. A brother is to love while he turns his back, always looking back, placing walls, broken glass, amber liquid, stolen goods, cocaine, scarification, as a barrier and bond test between you. A brother leads you to wonder, with loupe in eye, at the stories of the wounds that tattoo his shaven head, muscled arms, eyes narrowed looking into the camera, willing for one sitting to put up with your art.
A brother is to love. To test your patience, your wideness of heart, your intent, your focus, and come up short. A brother is to hang up on, when he rages on the phone, and set estrangement as the price you’ll pay for peace. A brother is to teach you the meaning of stroke and frontal lobe and aggression, but only too late after he has collapsed between two houses, dead before his face hits the ground.
A brother is to love.
Nancy Huggett is a settler descendant who lives, writes, and caregives in Ottawa, Canada on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people.