the lines in my brother’s face

by tobias crabtree

i’m sick. so’s my kid brother. i probably caught it from him because i worked on his neck and shoulders the last couple days. he’s close to my dna. we’re close.

the line of thinking was easy tonight in the garage. i was drawing dresses for my 6 year old friend, ruby. my brother was lining out work for his crew tomorrow on the construction site. these two things are not so different; we’re both good at what we do and we both take it seriously. so, as i draw a pink party dress with matching shoes, josh is telling his boys what time to show and what inspections are coming. he’ll be there at 5 a.m. and i’ll have had coffee with him come morning time.

while he sits across from me, he is my kid brother. at 38. he is still my kid brother. the lines show. he is looking down at his hands and they are thick and tough. his beard is long. when he looks up at me, i see the blue behind the hazel and i see the distance and the time we have traveled to be here, in his garage. his boys are in the next room. i am saying things to him and he listens…he really does. we are best friends.

i recently wrote down the names of my mom and dad’s moms and dads. i also wrote down their moms and dads. i don’t know why, but it bothers me not to know who they were. i don’t like forgetting where i came from. my dad’s mom’s dad was named charles. i said this to my brother, who didn’t know that, and he said, “so dad’s named after him?”  i said yes. he nodded and sipped his beer. i sipped some tea and whiskey. then my brother remembered back. he said, “i remember when grandma was dying, she spoke to dad and called him chucky.” josh was only 5 or so and i was surprised to hear that he could remember this. i said yeah, she did.

here i am, at the tail end of another day. my ma is visiting my grandma betty who is turning 90. ( and i love to say “turning 90” because it means that the world is moving around the sun…it is in it’s turning. and the turning is what we all do, whether we like it or not ) mama will say good and true things to my grandma and they will laugh. i spoke to the lady who is my grandma, who is turning 90…i spoke to her on the phone. she sounded sharp and strong and ready for forever. she still sings in her choir, she believes in her voice. i was humbled under the light of her being.

i am lying down. i’m coughing, like my brother in the next room. tonight, we spoke of the folks who made us. i looked at him in his mortal skin. here we go, as worlds are turning.

have you ever heard the migrating geese in that early light between the night and the sun? it holds a sad and lovely quality. it is life.  and i love it in it’s blueish greyness.