In Adversum

For forty-five minutes I told
my foreman lies about my brother
Wallace—how after half a lifetime
of trying, Wally finally managed
to get himself struck by lightning
on a sunny day, like a poet,
and how Wally dropped everything
climbed into his old green Buick
and headed downstate to find
a thirty-foot walnut log, how
blue exhaust twirled behind him
like a tornado lying down on the job,
and how he brought the log back,
and how he unloaded it in his yard,
and how he carved his totem
although he’d never done much
of anything with tools before,
and how he got me and half
his neighbors to struggle with it,
like ants with a grasshopper leg,
until his wife finally took over
and we got the thing planted for him—
for forty-five minutes I went on,
holding Bogeyman Frank at bay
while I was supposed to be painting
a cage, a wire-mesh cage. I was proud
because he asked me if it was true.
It would be I said,
If I had a brother named Wallace.
Paint the damned cage he said.

:: Timothy Russell, Adversaria (1993)

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