Brandon Edward North
I have a nephew mishandled by God,
apparently, in His steady derivations—
he cannot ask us questions about himself.
So the silk blanket hope for the first grandchild
covered the cellular mass that barely smiled,
and my family, rhetoricians of family,
wrote off their scholarly expectations.
Like anything born, he’d had his insular façade.
And for each faraway look we looked far in,
the electrons of our conscious thoughts misfired
with the subconscious persona of his dream-axis,
his counter-clockwise nucleus
suffering in our manifestations of logic.
His parents, dripping with what can’t be desired
when you’re emptied for disabled offspring,
touched him like a totem for salvation.
My brother, taking sacraments of alcohol
for the grace in self-mutilation,
tried everything to have the seizures stopped.
Too many times had the small, jerking head dropped
suddenly, as from a mason’s indifferent hand,
onto more stone, a collapsed right angle,
as his father stood at command,
helpless, ordered to see his creation fall.
He was responsible. It was his addictive dreams
that had been passed on to this child,
born to feel the slow withdrawal
from the tapering half-lives of his past sin;
but he swooned for the beauty of division,
the growth, a mudslide of the Impersonal,
smothering his rebel postures—he became a soldier
only to go AWOL to craft his almost-themes.
Impressionable, like a well-used hot spring,
he diluted the grime of guests from his water
by the polar nodes of the moon
to live his scalding life, warmest at noon
and coldest at midnight—the perfect symmetry
for atypical young. It wasn’t my abyss
to look in, to protest the corpus callosotomy—
to write the theorems and give it meaning.
So they cut his son’s brain in two—literally,
they took nothing better than a carving knife
and cut out a piece of his head-meat
to go in and slice the nerves that connect
the left and right hemispheres: the human intellect,
to be served as a feast of dualistic life,
slowly simmered unto a final Thanksgiving
for the cannibalizing enjoyment of family.
Because we’ve agreed he is not a vegetable:
we will not visit him in some field
where grey skinned growth lies unpicked, giving work
to the caretakers who only care enough to take
purpose from what a grandmother wouldn’t forsake.
Our hands are born to dig the dirt, grasping roots,
but my nephew’s will be clean until he’s healed
in death—buried for our nutrient filled fable.
And as I touch my own gnarled story, I’ll submit
to the romantic mathematics of the earth,
the selfless selfishness of the cosmos,
for there is too much that dies for one birth
that will later die to birth what we’ll misunderstand.
But I’ll use no paradoxical sleight of hand:
one sparrow will fall, and one will not.
A doctor’s diagnosis is just a painting of it.
about the author
Brandon Edward North is a poet from Dayton, Ohio. He obtained his B.A. in English at Wright State University and is returning there in the fall of 2013 to begin graduate work. His poems have appeared in multiple issues of both Wright State’s Fogdog Review and the Dayton literary zine Mock Turtle, and he was recently awarded Second Place for Poetry in Sinclair Community College’s Creative Writing Contest. He maintains a blog at www.brandonedwardnorth.wordpress.com/