I almost died giving him life,
bled on the table for an hour after
his head forced its way out between my legs
while they wheeled me to the delivery room.
In fifth grade, he played football, youngest
on the field, punched holes
in the line of defense
till they tackled him and kicked in his ribs.
At sixteen, two men mugged him
on payday. He slugged the one
who took his cash. The other
slashed his arm open
before they fled. Dripping blood,
he woke me to take him for stitches.
He joined the Reserves, like most of the others
on the Fast Track in his AIT,
for college money, poor man’s financial aid.
Before he joined, we talked
about war. Lifelong activist, I warned him
they’d call and he’d have to go.
He wasn’t gung-ho, just willing to pay
the price to go to school.
When he entered college last semester,
I watched him discover
learning’s delights. He planned to apply
for scholarships, decided he wanted to teach
physics, just starting
to do what I always
knew he could. Nineteen,
he looks twenty-five
to strangers who think he’s my brother.
To me, he still
looks too damn young
to kill or die in the desert.
Published in Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press)