Brother

(On the eve of your 21st birthday)

Once I spoke for you
because words felt too heavy
where they sat on your tongue.
You experienced the world
at its rawest, in a way that few
will ever painfully endure,

but somehow along the way
you grew callouses and healed
over the bits of yourself that others
found frightening. Now, you
laugh with all the comfort
of a reformed patient

and you don’t need my shields
anymore. I am happy for that,
for I will have new children
to protect one day–those that
come from us and others–but
along with each confident smile,

I still feel the strangest urge–
the barest inkling–to speak,
as something long forgotten
comes to linger. It rides in on
wind, in the silence between
your brave new laughter:

oh how the memories whisper.

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