That burnt out cigarette
tripping between his fingers; his eyes are steady but his arms always shake. And
beneath the rugged carpet, our words are stirring, like damp air trying
its own breath, or else we might all choke on the smoke. There was
fire in our lives, the ruined towns and larger cities in smouldered
inverse winters with flaming suns. All our effort lay in the trickery
which we yet had to master.
I was six years older than
you, so I had the given word. But you never listened because you were the given
rebel. Anxious bones, always shaking, always shaking so badly with cigarette in
hand. But those eyes could kill snow, could make the walls crawl into the brick
layers. I have held your hands; I have picked you up and carried you around. I
have held your dreams like a human holds the newborn bird. The fear of fragile
glass, a skeleton of sugar dreams. When you grew past me, you grew into a
thought that had long only be carried in the back of a little boy's mind, of
someone who had only himself and his frail glow. The winter sun, piercing my
eyes when on top of a mountain hill, ready to ski down.
During summer, you were
toned and bronze, I recall this. I made fun of your crooked nose, broken
sometime during your hockey years, but the girls loved it. Your chin protruding
from the child face, cheeks building and structure visible; compensating for
nicotine stained teeth. And the bird eyes that spoke of a decade of fire, blue
sky against the torched land. Can we speak the spell; at least attempt to let
the river wash in? I have for so long wished for us to be cleaned, purified. Every
time when I was crying alone in a corner of my heart, you got upset with yourself,
the distaste for my tears and failure. Maybe I failed you in being weak, human.
My pain was as real as yours, perhaps worse.
Carrying this weight on
your back, the heavy brick walls. You shook, you stirred, and your skin was
tense. Light another one, take it to your lips, and let the smoke fade. It was
the ritual of the moment, our given mistakes. And in the back of our hearts,
keeping the embers warm.