MY BROTHER IS A FISH
By: Jonathan Mundell
my brother and Dave carry a canoe
to the lake—
the underside in the sun and light
explodes across the silver
like the eye looking
from a lighthouse
—I ran past
the banana trees in our backyard
and Bateman’s fence
and his barking Rottweiler watching
the canoe slips into the water and waves
ripple away (quicker,
quicker!) but when I reached
the big apple tree in Amanda’s backyard
the canoe sat like a bellybutton
in the middle of the lake.
we hid in the baby palms
on the side of Vick’s house
footsteps in the grass behind us
come faster and faster—“this
next to a cut between fences,
splintered and spider-webbed
is Manhunt,” he says
flicked a lighter and the flame sketched
his cheeks and nose,
bends and shifts inside his eyes—
in his nostrils and trademark dimple.
He lit a firecracker
and dropped it and it hissed
like a beetle in the dirt.
When it exploded
voices swarmed to the spot
the world shakes around us
reaching back to mine
it no longer was, just a black-ash crater
and broken twigs.
We reached the end
of the two fences enclosed
by the monolithic subdivision sign.
“This is where we keep the canoe,” he said.
It hung between two Oaks
like a hammock
fifteen feet above our heads.
We climbed the branches
and crawled to the bow
and the hull bellowed
when we stepped in. My brother
coming from the sandwich of fences
leaves crumbling beneath soles
covered my mouth.
“Quiet.” he said. “Get down.”
We slid under the thwarts and yoke
and lay in the water
growing footfalls echo inside
and I smelled fish-blood
and dirt. “They aren’t far off,” he whispered
and he lit a pack of firecrackers.
I watched sparks follow the fuse
toward an anemone of Black Cats
and he tossed them overboard.
“They’re here,” I said, “all around us.”
My brother lies next to me (two peas
in a—), “Shhh,” he said.
He held my hand and squeezed
—footsteps scatter like cockroaches
fades away into the colorless
spectrum of memory replaced
by a firecracker
ricocheting the underbelly
of the canoe [the fuse
reaches the gunpowder
explodes through them
one by one]
(I hear them like heartbeats now)
then it became silent, save for our breathing,
or the slow sashay of wind gently creaking
through the canoe, where it swayed
in the heavy branches
the metal and water
becomes a part of us both
lying arm to arm and leg to leg—
both a part of this place and time too
midair, our youth as obvious
as the scent of sap on our fingertips.
“You smell the bass?” my brother asked.
“It died right here.” He lifted his arm
and the white sleeve of his shirt was pink
with the bloody water and he laughed.
His hands reached out in front of us
into the open sky
like he was holding a big fish.
Jonathan Mundell’s work has appeared in The Closed Eye Open. He currently lives and teaches in South Florida.