Winter Break

He came home with the damp December dawn,
no snow on the ground. Mud caking his boots.
And when he got home, we all said our hellos,
threw our arms wide like nets, and then they both came to blows,
(most things change when dad hits low)
so we left and went out for tacos
fifteen minutes, fifteen miles, over in the next town.
On the road it always seems the sun won’t ever go down.
Just two brothers cruising in the cutting light of the winter
and I told him about the high school, and he told me about the new
and how even with how old he was, he didn’t know what to do,
I thought maybe when I was his age every choice would be as clear,
as sharply-focused as the chained-up dogs out in the open air,
and he smiled at me slowly, and he smiled a bit too long,
said, “Buddy, someday you’ll realize just how much you’re wrong.”
and we shared our bitter silence, and tried not to let out
all the words we’d swallowed down before, every whine and every shout.
When he dropped me off at home, he shook my hand and smiled,
Jumped right back in his car and went right back for the county line.

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