My Brother Shakes the Bottle


Laura Tohe

Davis is wearing his best irrelevant boots and jacket.
It's been at least a month that he's owned them.
He looks twenty years older than I
though we're only a year apart.
The faces tell us
what we already know from the border towns
about being waited on last even though
we were in line first.

Davis orders what I do.
He tries not to make waves,
not to make demands.
So he stutters to the adolescent waitress,
"Can I have some Sweet'n Low?"

On the other side of the counter,
under the fluorescent lights, sits a local
wearing a SEED cap.
Between bites, he watches us.
These faces are clues
to what drove my brother to slump on that red ant hill
in the Arizona desert
where only the sagebrush and rabbits
must have felt the earth shake a little.
In their eyes
I see the night, when anything can happen.
It is then in his room at the VA
my brother shakes the bottle
that explodes
all over

From Fever Dreams, Leilani Wright & James Cervantes (Editors), University of Arizona Press.
© 1997 Laura Tohe
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