(For my brother, 21)
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There’s a photo of you, kid,
at six years old: cherubic.
Tawny-haired and chubby, like the guinea-pig you hold.
A Botticelli pieta.
It doesn’t suit you.
Even then, you took life straight
A child without artifice or art.
Always cheerful, taciturn and pliant
formed of knuckles, knees and rubber boots.
Did you ever cry? I don’t remember.
Guess you must have tantrumed, sulked and puked.
But they are born
who wear the world untailored.
Who take it on a grinning chin and thrive.
Paddling in the outsized oyster
maitre d’fate has served them
Talented at simply being alive.
Even adolescence’ anguished trainwreck
spat you out miraculously unharmed.
Others suffered cruelty and acne.
You grew bold and beautiful and charmed.
You’re sleeping on my couch right now,
while skeins of broken-hearted girls
(the ones you never mean to hurt)
spin full-lipped and forgiving
through your bright untroubled dreams.
You are golden-limbed and haloed;
loving, loved and thoughtless...
Tell me, brother,
How did you get born
with all the easy-going genes?