I often wonder why he hated me,
what it was that drove him,
and what I had done to deserve it.
I sometimes think it was primal,
with nothing he could do
at such a young age, just born into this world himself.
But my mother remembers,
"He loved you," as she hands me
a picture, high exposure,
my infant body: half-asleep, drooling, smiling,
his toddler face: eyes crinkled, lips pressed upon my soft, fat cheek.
I don't remember that.
I remember the curled, fatty muscle of his hand,
landing on my shoulders, my arms, my back,
rock-paper-scissors with everything at stake,
over, over, and over and over.
No knuckles, never in the face.
That nasal-rushed snarl,
a barb around his tongue and
razorwire lips, and all their violence.
I remember learning what I was:
Stupid, weak, small—a ******, a ******.
And yet at the park,
when Mickey pulled my hair and sicced his dog,
burying teeth deep into my right cheek,
I remember the weight of a body crashing.
Mickey, crying loud, runs home,
his hand over his face, bloodied and bruised,
and my brother darts away on his bike.
CW: Homophobic slurs