My Brother Don

My brother Don was brave. He could climb the tallest trees in the valley where I grew up. When Dad sent me back to my room, when I was three and afraid of the dark and the noises coming through the walls, because he wanted Mum all to himself, I climbed in next to Donny. I felt the flip of his penis like a lizard, as he moved in his sleep to make room for me. He wasn’t afraid of snakes or frogs or anything. We rode Midget bareback and did circus tricks upon his rump. Donny got blamed for everything, even putting water in the rain gauge, the time I did it because I was scared of Uncle Eric and wanted to punish him. When my brother went off to school, I was sad and angry. When our pony fell upon his head I felt guilty, as if it was my fault. Donny wasn’t good at school; not like Billy, who was the cuckoo in the nest; Mum said he was a genius when he listened to the Chickabidees of the Air at two years of age. “There’s a thin line between genius and madness!” she said later, because she was afraid. Donny liked finding birds’ eggs and blowing them, putting a tiny speck of red wax on the hole and placing them in a glass-lidded box. Once he caught a sparrow on the farm next door, and showed it to Mad Old Ned, who took it from him, raised the axe slowly and deliberately, and smashed its head upon a block. Don’s head has been asleep for a long time. It’s time to go there now. It’s time to whisper in his ear. He is in a dark place and afraid to let go. Time now to fly and soar like an eagle high up in the sky. Fly, Brother Eagle, fly!

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