Back to the wall
I listened to my brother bark
like the start of a hunt.
After humidified weeks
breathing plumes of steam,
his cough suddenly stopped
and he turned a mottled blue.
I remember my mother's rush
to the phone, her call to Eli,
God himself, who arrived
with his scuffed black bag.
He ordered towels and hot water,
washed his satisfied hands
and entered our tropics with a
circling his neck like a vine.
In the mist he moved the silver moon
across my brother's chest, listening
like a cellist with perfect pitch.
Back in clear air, he glanced at my
limp on the sofa and dialed the rotary
Yes, an admission. One-year-old boy,
In minutes, I heard the cat scream
of an ambulance, witnessed
a jungle of white-coated men.
Afterwards, alone at the neighbor's,
repeating that long word,
I unpacked my own black bag,
the tin foil mirror and pink sugar pills,
pressed the plastic stethoscope to my chest
and listened like prey for a barking dog.
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