Dear Brother

When you come home, you smell like smoke and sorrow.

Since your new life has begun, I feel you drawing farther away from us. You hide the Marlboros that symbolize our family’s greatest weakness, and you don’t talk much. You've had a cold for three days now, and I think you might one day slip quietly into the black, stagnant pools under your eyes.

I don’t know what you're thinking; I suppose I never have. But mother tells us to watch and wait. “He will leave his mark on the world some day,” she says, and I find myself repeating that phrase to anyone who will listen. Every word is true; we have meant it since the day you were born, since the day you played piano, since the day you opened your mouth and sang.

But I’m afraid that you will end before you begin; that your dreams will crumble away with the ashes of a cigarette. I want so much for you, but I think I see the city lights fading from your eyes. Smoke clings to your clothes, and you're hidden by shadows in your mind.

I’m afraid that when the smoke clears, my brother won’t be there anymore.

This poem is about: 
My family


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