Kevin / andre marsden

When I was a boy he had
not hands but
cords of muscle,
sinew, tendons,
richly vibrating strings of flesh
filled with liquid-fire spirit
brimming at the eyes.
Even saw it spill out once
when they wouldn’t let him hold his son.

He was the fire in our home.
The uncontrollable element
in our family’s Feng Shui.
Made winter times bearable,
shielded us against tedium and cold
just from the sound of
……….—Hip-Hop blaring;
just from the sound of
……….—maniacal laughter;
just from the sounds of
……….—the outrageous things he would say.
Other times, he was just
a fire in our house
and it would break my grandmother’s heart
just to think of putting
her youngest son out.

Saw him shave his head once
in the bathroom mirror
between rounds of Tekken.
Saw him give me a look
that was all confusion and anger.
“You scared?  Why you scared?”
Saw it spill out more than once.
Saw him cover from view,
too late,
a mound of Cocaine
the size of his hustle.

Heard a rumour he was dead.
Heard a rumour he was living
somewhere in Mexico or
Guatemala or
some place he had no business being.
Heard him say he hated the medication.
Heard he was taking up meditation
but only ever saw him staring
out a dirty window
on the wrong side of the bed.
That’s not Zen.
That’s Benzodiazepine.

“That’s not how life works”,
Hear my mother say when
he showed up to her office
smelling like three weeks on the street
And ready for whatever job she had.
Heard his cousin tell him
“Look, even my dog have to bark to eat.”

Now that I’m a man with
not hands but
cords of muscle,
sinew, tendons,
quietly vibrating strings of flesh
brimming with spirit
like so much smoke,
sometimes you can see it
just at the eyes
when I dream of
what it would be like
to not rely on rumours,
but to have him close
without his fire dampened,
but with a mended spirit
and a heart the size and shape
that his son must be by now.


catch a fire prompt for june 2011: cord, rumour, size, spirit, close


Andre Marsden is a poetry, fiction, and essay writer from Belmopan, Belize. His writing has been published in online journals such as MediaVirus Magazine and St. Somewhere Journal, and in print in News Exchange Magazine in Belize, as well as a 2004 anthology of poems by the University of Belize.

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