OUR BROTHERS LIVE IN OUR DREAMS
by Bill Tremblay
Sometimes they’re disguised
as Greek priests in beards at weddings
or auto mechanics who wink
as they daub motor oil on our noses.
Sometimes they wield axes
striking blazes off mountain spruces
making a trail to follow.
We remember their body odors
from those years sharing the same bed
in a small apartment.
Our defenders, the slayers of snakes,
our summertime employers,
a lantern in the brooding gloom
of northwest forest nights.
Their skin is no longer golden brown
from jogs through boot camp swamps.
They shine with hope their luck will
hold out and they’ll get a job
doing what they are good at
Home on furlough they stand
in skivvies ironing their dress pants
with Sharpshooter medals,
packs of Luckies bulging like gravestones
in their shirt pockets.
We ask them why they must go to war.
If your country calls, you go, they say.
They brush off our question
about when we can get into the action.
They ruffle our hair and tell us,
We fight so you don’t have to.
They pull on their dress pants
and float out like bronzed gods
to a starlit dancefloor,
their hearts brim with great
They come home to women with perfect
tans laughing like wedding bells.
We see them in the dream rain
trying to get unstuck from a sandpit
with nothing but hands to dig.
Sometimes they sit in white rooms
waiting for radiation watching trees turn yellow
in the steamy windows of gathering thought
around the oval portrait of our father
in his sailor suit
after being torpedoed by a U-boat
off the coast of Wales in WW I.
What was he reaching for
all those years at the race track?
His life-preserver was a brass ring.
We are birds in the same tree.
The oldest launches into the air.
One by one all of us follow.
Our flights are as high as we can imagine.