Brother

You wondered once if
A poem I wrote was about
You

‘Tofu’ it was delicately called
A nickname for someone
Special, who tickled
My senses

Appalled when you asked
Me that question. I said
‘No, it’s not you’

Never suspecting you
Would be hurt.

How was I supposed
To know what that question
Meant?

All of my life I didn’t
Know that words
Were not enough
To convey the depth
Of a person’s emotion

I didn’t know
That people rarely mean
The things they say

They circle around
Meanings and feelings

Because the ground
On which they tread
Cannot bear
The full load
Of truth

How could I know

That in your dearth of words
you needed me to
Reach out with symbols
Instead?

How was I supposed
To know that trying to talk
To you
Was akin to using a blunt
Instrument on a septic wound?

You were 6 years older
And a little more broken than
I was

You were the same person
That gave me a bad haircut
When I was 5 years old
Which resulted in a fire hydrant of tears
And the abject shame of
a shorn head
I was now not even a girl

Just a non-boy

And people laughed at me

The brother I put on a pedestal
who got me to kowtow
To you so that I could
Get more of your
‘Special’ limited edition
Paper drawings of people

The jerk that held
My jotterbook high above
My head and told me
To play a game of catch
As you entertained
Yourself with my jumping
Up to reach for it

You were the swordsman
I pitted myself against
When I pulled out
The long red, blue and white
Golf umbrella sitting amidst
All the other less worthy
‘Swords’

You were the person that
barked at me
To look away when
You saw two men with guns
running after a stray dog

As if I couldn’t handle the sight

I knew too well what it meant,
I just didn’t know
That on the other side
Of devastation
There was life

And it was beckoning
To me everyday

“Was the poem about me?”
In your question
I saw presumption and pride
Where instead I could have seen
courage and vulnerability

Two things that I knew
Too much about
and yet too little of
To decipher the import
Of your question

Brother, you may never
Like or appreciate the tone
And feel of my words,
But here I am
All of me

Can you see it now?