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Jubilees 4:34

Whereof providence, Lord?
What has your will become?

Paint falls from each wall of this house, paint old but a year and already corroding, desirous of rest from the sun;

The weeds at the sundial's edge have lost their desire for water; yellow they rasp from the yellow earth, thickets dull as rust, desiccated and creaking;

The sun travels slower each day, and I fear it will not descend, and when it descends there is only cricket-bare night, and the screams of the apple-tree;

Beneath which my brother lies buried, commingled root to sinew, dirt and bone;

Beneath these apples that nourished my uncles, my fathers, all nine hundred years of this house and this land, and filled our nine rooms with rich scent;

My brother's cancer has overgrown the earth.

Apple-seeds first softened, and the next year gristle-blue flesh knotted in the fruits, and aimless veins ran in them, stringy, tasting of silt;

I am the last.

My older brother, who played the guitar sweetly, and the tambourine, is dead of my hand;

He who lay indolent over shade-dappled hours while fields cracked with thirst and books of lineage were neglected;

Who spat from the window apple-seeds into a particular cup.

The tumor furled about his backbone, so that knives could not reach it, and caused his hands to shudder, his gait to falter, and his tongue to come undone;

Cancer ascended my brother, and he became witless;

Steam came from him.

He could not be roused, nor even could I turn him to face me, for he was hot to touch;

With a dagger whetted and washed, I found the gully between two ribs of his back, and glided the tip into his heart;

And though no blood ever ran from that wound, his breath soon thinned to nothing.

The coffin I wrought of apple-wood, burnished and dark;

And six days he lay within, ripening in the dust-deep quarters of late grandfather Enoch, funereal linens about him, sigils drawn in dust.

And on the sixth day I rose from my pallet on the veranda and lifted him;

And laid him beneath the apple-tree, which four arms-breadths cannot encircle;

With its grey caul of moss, cool and sweet, deep enough to submerge a sun-beaten face;

That tree with sap enough to satisfy a dozen at table;

Whose given flesh is now too soft to whittle;

Whose branches no longer embrace the sky, Lord, but turn, scrabbling into the earth;

Whose sap is become marrow.

Will your sun now cease to turn about this house, this earth, this tree?

Days surpass forty hours now, and nights fifteen, and the pale rind of each pale apple tans, wrinkles with heat, suppurates;

And the fine features of my brother contort from leathery apple-skin, and every pulpy stopped throat screams;

And still the boughs exude new life, like teeth from the surface of gums.

I brought a shovel to its foot some weeks ago, and found the order of roots tangled, shrouding the coffin, wreathed like nerves.

The earth shivered when I severed one on shovel-edge, and the mewlings of apple-throats were as fire to me;

I feel a tumor bulge the orbit of my right eye, but that is not why I would welcome fire.

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