Robin Wang is a high school sophomore from Canada. She has been previously
published in Vagabond City Literary Journal and enjoys learning new things.
Upon the sudden and utterly shocking realization
that I'm now older than my brother was when he died, older than
what he was and is and will ever be, I think of a math problem
of mine years ago. Rotate the triangle 180 degrees. Bam.
Different problem. Familiar. Solvable. Rotate the body 180 degrees.
Bam. Look back behind you and nothing is the same again. Funny how
time works like that? When I cried in the bathroom and he found
me, told me one day the world was going to pull off its hood
and reveal itself to me. I'd be ok. Hang in there, kiddo.
When I found him there too, later. Old and unreachable. Slim fingers.
Skinny wrist. Skin so pale you could almost miss the teardrops dotting it.
Almost. I hate your haircut, old man. Buzzed, black, tiny hairs.
Round head. My brother, eight years older then me and a god,
white shirt, pale skin. Oh yeah? It doesn't look better than before?
I shake my head. The way I remember it, he laughs next. But I can't remember him
laughing. Two weeks later he is dead. He didn't always used to be my
brother. He came to live with us when I was eight and he sixteen. I think
it's kind of poetic, in a way. Eight years without him, eight years with him,
the rest of my life with nothing. I imagine I died there with him, the way he tied the
rope he fished me out of my own life and hung me beside him. Thick,
course, rough rope. Enough of it to encircle a whole life and cut it off:
removed from the source, the body has no choice but to die. He came from
another country and barely spoke my language. For study. He studied.
I studied him: a bony, lean, pale fish fished from some ratty building in
the middle of nowhere come to live with us. At school: I have a new brother.
I didn't know your mom was pregnant? He's eight years older than me.
His fingers are long and white. Bloodless. I imagine him crying.
I know he laughed but I can't remember it. My biggest regret: telling him I
loved him the first time the last time I ever saw him. Eyes wavering,
brown the colour of melted chocolate, but too watery and thin to
pretend to pass for anything as sweet. Quick, almost wordless, I love you, too.
That's it? The last time I'll ever see you and you bounce just like that?
Should I have made you stay?
Within four hours he is dead. Rotate again and again.
Look back. Is this familiar? Flip. Reverse.
Translate my fucking body from here to there. How did I get here?
One step, two. Was it hard? Making a choice? Buying the rope?
Fishing me with you? Hanging me with you?
I told you I loved you. Could I have made you believe me?
I am cultivating a feeling. In between
Butternut squash and lazy cucumber sprouts emerging from
I bury a seed no larger than a hair-tip,
Made of my discontent. I water it. I love it.
I watch it go.
Wednesday's child. I open my eyes and find
The basket is open, spilled full the brim of
Desire: the braided peaches of my youth
I once hid to save all for me and then forgot about,
Rotting silently next to my spinning dancer doll.
The sun-dipped apricots whose flesh seemed
To drip lightdrops down a speckled and
Wanting throat. I never did quite learn
How to cry. Pailfuls of berries we used to dye
Our hands purple picking, half going into the
Waiting metal and half stuffed greedily
Into open and frothing stained mouths. I found a baby bird
On the ground once and loved it. I found the
Ribcage of something dead once and ran away screaming.
Nobody ever told me these would be the same.
One summer we left home and our zucchini to grow
Without us. The hot summer rains, drops like little fat bumblebees
Arcing through the air fed them. They grew huge, but bleached and nutritionless,
Trading their stature for everything that they were.
We ate them anyway.
And this is the story I wish my mother would tell me:
I named you Robin because the first winter in a new land was hard and cold.
Your father was terribly tired. But then my little red bird flew through a crack in the sky
And I knew everything would be alright.
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